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Friday 18 April 2014

McGuinness hails Murphy's show of leadership

Donegal's Michael Murphy finished 2012 with Sam Maguire in hand and his first ever All Star.

But if his performance on Saturday night is a sign of his form for the season ahead, then we may be about to witness the best of Murphy, who looked a class apart in the opening league match of 2013.

Murphy scored four points from play, but it was his reach to meet a botched Paddy McBrearty free in the second half and guide over it with a booming fist that really stood out.

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness was quick to hail Murphy's leadership in the aftermath, noting how he has been injury-free for the first time in two years.

"Hopefully he can get a good run at it because he had a very tough run over the last two years in terms of injuries. If he can stay healthy and build his fitness through the league, we'll be happy."

Murphy missed the opening two games of last year's league with a groin injury and was then laid up for almost three months with a knee injury that required surgery after damage sustained in the league match against Dublin.

Throughout the summer, it always looked like he was playing catch-up until he exploded in the All-Ireland final.

With a winter free of injuries, Murphy hit the ground running last Saturday night.

"I thought he showed great leadership in the second half. Some of the young lads in the full-forward line were fairly inexperienced," said McGuinness.

"He led the line very well and got us forward, particularly in the absence of Colm (McFadden) as well. We were missing Karl Lacey and Neil Gallagher, natural leaders, so I felt he did a very good job in terms of that."

Lacey won't be back until the end of the league, while McGuinness may also have to do without Frank McGlynn who, like McFadden, limped out of the Kildare game, and Gallagher, who didn't start for the Down match in Ballybofey on Saturday night.

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