Murphy returns to give Donegal McKenna boost
DONEGAL scoring sensation Michael Murphy will be back to lead their attack for tomorrow night's McKenna Cup final against Tyrone.
Murphy missed their thrilling mid-week semi-final defeat of Down because he had a college exam in DCU, but manager John Joe Doherty confirmed he is available again.
The big Glenswilly star will certainly be a marked man and not just because he is the reigning Young Footballer of the Year, who racked up 36 points during Donegal's late run to an All-Ireland quarter-final last summer, finishing second in the top-scoring stakes to Kerry's Colm Cooper.
Just nine days ago, when the same counties drew in the group stages of Ulster's secondary competition, Murphy scored a whopping 2-9.
Tyrone's Martin Penrose chipped in with 3-3 of his own that night in that high-scoring 2-17 to 4-11 thriller, so tomorrow's re-match in Enniskillen (7.30) is eagerly awaited.
Donegal's mid-week defeat of Down, who were hotly tipped under new manager James McCartan, has not gone unnoticed, even if their hectic schedule isn't exactly what Donegal boss John Joe Doherty had planned.
After being frozen out and snowed in for so long, Donegal have quickly gone from nought to 60 in footballing terms in the past few weeks.
The contraction of the McKenna Cup means they've already played four games in 12 days and tomorrow night's final will by their fifth in 15.
"I wouldn't mind a bit of snow now," quipped Doherty of their hectic fortnight.
"We're really trying to keep all our focus on the National League, but the reality is that we're in a final now and it's against Tyrone, so you'll always take those games seriously.
"As long as you're not getting injuries, it's not a problem," Doherty said of their schedule which provides the build-up to an 'away' Division 2 NFL opener against Westmeath on February 7. Given the spate of injuries Donegal suffered last season, that is a welcome change.
Further good news for Doherty saw Barry Dunnion and midfielder Brendan Boyle return to training after long-term injuries.
Dunnion has been out since suffering a cruciate ligament injury last August, while Boyle had surgery on a groin injury last September.
But Doherty confirmed that it will be "another while" before he can avail of the versatile services of Christy Toye, despite making good progress from a ruptured Achilles Tendon and returning to light running recently.