Donegal skipper Michael Murphy rejects form and fitness concerns ahead of Dublin showdown
Donegal talisman insists he's in 'good shape' for Dublin showdown having recovered from ankle injury
Michael Murphy must have felt as if he was in the dock on Wednesday morning.
The Donegal captain was flanked his manager Rory Gallagher at a press conference ahead of this evening's All-Ireland quarter-final against Dublin.
The event was held against the backdrop of a wintry Donegal morning in the Abbey Hotel in Donegal town, and the charges were quickly levelled at the Donegal captain.
Paul Galvin had claimed that Murphy was in danger of losing his scoring instinct; Darragh Ó Sé compared him to a member of kitchen staff who was 'making the steaks and washing the dishes', James Horan and James McCartan have raised questions about the Glenswilly man's movement.
"Hopefully I've another couple of years left yet and that they won't be writing the obituaries for another wee while," Murphy noted at one stage, puffing his cheeks in apparent amazement at the amount of talk about his own game.
Murphy had been hampered before the start of the Ulster SFC with an ankle injury, but he rejected claims that he may still be inhibited by that ailment.
"Not a bit," he said.
"I think I'm in good shape. I'm confident I'm in good shape myself, which is a huge, huge part of it.
"To be able to get a number of trainings under the belt throughout the summer is a huge part of it too. No, totally injury-free and feel I'm moving well and I'll leave everybody else to analyse how well I'm moving."
For all the debate that raged about whether he was best suited to playing inside as an orthodox number 14 or in that deep-lying role where he's the Jack of all Trades, this summer the talk about Murphy has gone a little deeper.
Murphy - now in his sixth year as Donegal's captain - has scored two points from play out of a total of 0-13 in five championship matches this year.
"By all means, you'd be mad to go out every day and score 1-12, mad to catch 12 balls in the middle of the field and mad to hit the 20 turnover mark," Murphy said, "but that doesn't happen. Football isn't a game of perfect. Life is not like that either. It throws curve balls in the way at times.
"Whether Rory and the management see fit for me to move a bit deeper or to play inside, I'm just going to try and be as dangerous as possible when we have the ball. That doesn't stop what you can bring when you don't have the ball and that's work-rate for your county.
"My role is primarily when we don't have the ball to try and get it back again and when we do have the ball to try and create something to try and score for the team. It's as simple as that."
Murphy's role has certainly changed from the teenager who was thrust onto the scene by Brian McIver in 2007, but there is clearly an edge to the player this week to perhaps silence the doubters.
"Every day I go out and train, I go out to try and get fitter, stronger, sharper and I hope to do that again now the next day - I hope to do it against Dublin," said Murphy, who turned 27 on Thursday.
"It's a huge stage. As a footballer, to be able to do that, that's what I look forward to doing."
Like a lawyer in a court room, Rory Gallagher opted to interject at one stage.
"I think people look for things that aren't there sometimes," the Donegal manager noted.
"I think it's crazy. I think people get a notion and it develops and develops. Michael's in great condition. Absolutely great condition. He's moving really, really well.
"Michael knows how to look after his body, no more so than other people.
"He is playing a long time, there's no doubt about that, but I'm pretty sure he intends playing a lot longer."