Tuesday 20 November 2018

Donegal SFC Final: Murphy follows up Ireland heroics by firing Glenswilly to county glory


Glenswilly captain James Pat McDaid celebrates at the final whistle
Glenswilly captain James Pat McDaid celebrates at the final whistle
Benny Boyle of Killybegs contests possession with Glenswilly's Ruairi Crawford

THE beauty of Michael Murphy's brilliance sometimes is that he makes it look so simple.

THE beauty of Michael Murphy's brilliance sometimes is that he makes it look so simple.

Less than 24 hours after captaining Ireland in the first International Rules Test, Murphy produced a five-star performance to fire Glenswilly to their second Donegal SFC title in three years in Ballybofey.

Murphy netted a first-half penalty and played the lead role in a pair of second-half goals, scored by Neil Gallagher and Ciaran Bonner.

Murphy had been in the spotlight since the schedule clash became apparent, but the totemic full-forward kept his counsel – and delivered a devastating performance to shoot his club to glory after helping Ireland to a win the previous night.

"The big thing was trying to make the decision," Murphy said.

"It wasn't easy because the club might have felt that I was turning the back on them. That was never the case. Once I made the decision it was just a matter of getting the head down and challenge for the two games.

"It's football: it's what I enjoy doing, what I love and, as a young fella, if you were told you'd play for your country and then your club in a county final, you'd take that."

Underdogs Killybegs, buoyed after midfielder Enda Murphy was given an 11th-hour reprieve from suspension to play, made a real go of it early on.

When Christopher Murrin's long ball in the ninth minute deceived everybody, including Glenswilly goalkeeper Philip O'Donnell, for a goal, they garnered real belief.

Murphy tucked home a 13th-minute penalty after Colin Kelly had been hauled down, but again Killybegs struck in a frenetic opening quarter as Hugh McFadden palmed home after another long ball caused panic in the Glen defence.

Glenswilly settled and, with Murphy, Gary McFadden and Caolan Kelly on the mark, they led 1-7 to 2-3 at the break.

Killybegs had already shocked the system, reaching the final having lost all 14 of their league games. They had played with real purpose at times in the first half, but nothing could have prepared them for what they'd face in the second period.

Whatever was said in Glenswilly's half-time team talk, it worked a treat. They scored 2-10 to just one point in a 26-minute spell in which Gary McDaid's team assumed control once they cut out those mistakes that haunted the opening half-hour.

In the second half they were as good as they've ever been – and produced a performance of real poise and precision.

Five minutes in, Neil Gallagher latched onto Murphy's pass and, after initially being denied by Antoine O'Hara, the midfielder crashed home their second goal.

Gary McFadden ended the day with seven points while the efficient and effective Ruairi Crawford put Glenswilly five up.

Killybegs – who had Everton and Republic of Ireland star Seamus Coleman among their large gathering of supporters – were rocked when full-back Jason Noctor was sent off. The former Donegal panellist was given a second yellow card for hauling down Murphy. Without the tenacious Noctor, Killybegs' afternoon became an ordeal.

Kealan McFadden hit a quick-fire brace and, with 15 minutes left, Glenswilly were home and hosed, leading by nine.

Twelve minutes from the end, a sublime back-heel by Murphy sent Kealan McFadden scampering clear. With only O'Hara to beat, he offloaded for Bonner to crash home and the champagne was at the ready.

Darren McGinley fisted over as the Glenswilly express just kept rolling. Gary McFadden (two) and Gallagher had it resembling a procession by the conclusion.

Fittingly, the final say was down to Murphy, as he forced his way past a handful of Killybegs players to win the free that would be his final act of a memorable weekend.

Two years ago, Glenswilly topped the tree in Donegal but last year they made a tame exit. "I'll tell you what," Murphy said, "this team has been doubted by a lot of people within the county. I have to go on the record and say that I am a proud Glenswilly man tonight."

SCORERS – Glenswilly: M Murphy 1-5 (1-0 pen, 5fs), G McFadden 0-7 (5fs), C Bonner, N Gallagher 1-1 each, K McFadden 0-2, Caolan Kelly, R Crawford, D McGinley 0-1 each. Killybegs: H McFadden 1-3 (3fs), C Murrin 1-0, D Conwell, B Boyle, B Faherty 0-1 each

GLENSWILLY – P O'Donnell; B McDaid, E Ward, A McDevitt; R Crawford, J McDaid, J Gibbons; N Gallagher, C Bonner; D McGinley, G McFadden, K McFadden; Colin Kelly, M Murphy, Caolan Kelly. Subs: C Gallagher for J McDaid (48), B Farrelly for K McFadden (51), J McFadden for Colin Kelly (53), R Diver for Crawford (55), O Crawford for Bonner (56).

KILLYBEGS – A O'Hara; E Gallagher, J Noctor, D O'Donnell; C Murrin, S Molloy, D Conwell; E Murphy, M Smyth; B Boyle, C Molloy, D Breslin; B Faherty, H McFadden , M Boyle. Subs: P Gallagher for M Boyle (37), B McGuire for C Molloy (44), B Cannon for Murphy (44).

REF – I Molloy (Glenties)

Irish Independent

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