Sunday 25 February 2018

Donegal itching to 'put right the wrongs' against Laois – Murphy

Michael Murphy is set to be named the captain of Ireland's International Rules team
Michael Murphy is set to be named the captain of Ireland's International Rules team

In the 12-year history of the All-Ireland football qualifiers, only one team has beaten the jinx of the six-day turnaround after defeat in a provincial final, but Michael Murphy can't wait to do battle again.

Murphy and Donegal suffered a surprise Ulster final defeat to Monaghan on Sunday and their season hangs by a thread as they head for Carrick-on-Shannon to face Laois on Saturday evening.

James McCartan's Down defeated Tipperary in a Round 4 qualifier last year, six days after losing to Donegal in the Ulster final. Dublin bounced back from their Leinster final defeat to Meath 2001 as they hammered Sligo, but they had seven days of a turnaround. Murphy welcomes the chance for redemption coming so soon.

"It's a human trait that when something goes wrong, you want to come back at it and do it right," he said. "There's no point in sitting around licking the wounds at the business end of the season feeling sorry for yourself.

"It's do or die – if you lose, you're out. It'll be huge to get over the line. We'll try to put right the wrongs and move forward.

"We will regroup like we regroup after any other game. We will try and put right the wrongs and get going again. We need to just roll into Carrick-on-Shannon and put on a performance.

"Laois will come in well prepared on the back of a couple of results. They've a bit of momentum. We've been down that route before. If you can win a few games, then you can end up somewhere you mightn't have expected."

For Donegal, it's a case of losing a game and ending up where few had expected them to be. Monaghan lit a match beneath the season with a 0-13 to 0-7 win over the All-Ireland champions in Clones.

Around the same time as Monaghan were snaking their way through their county with the Anglo-Celt Cup on Monday night, Donegal gathered in the Mount Errigal Hotel to begin the task of rebuilding the broken jigsaw.

"Bluntly, we let ourselves down," Murphy said. "Monaghan outperformed us, both defensively and attacking-wise.

"It's as simple and straight as in any game – they conceded less and defended comfortably. They scored more and put in a lot more going forward. They outplayed us in every facet of our game.

"If you lose a final it's not nice. People might have thought we were down in the dumps but it (the meeting) was as positive as it could have been. People are mad to get it right."

It had been said of Donegal that they appeared heavy-legged and over-trained, with Joe Brolly on 'The Sunday Game' referencing a supposedly punishing training session in Ballybofey last Tuesday night. Murphy, though, rebuffed the suggestion.

"It was just an ordinary Tuesday session," he said. "Any time we get together we train hard and train well.

"We felt fitter than ever before. Mentally and tactically we were in a good spot. We just didn't perform, but that's something we'll live with and we'll have to deal with.

"We didn't perform for ourselves and more importantly we didn't perform for the Donegal people who travelled up to Clones for the weekend. That's something we are aware of."

With Mark McHugh set to miss the Laois game after spending a second night in Letterkenny General Hospital, Donegal have been struck a blow, but the intention of their captain is to deliver a backlash and fire them back to Croke Park.

"We'll park it and move on," he said. "Every man is positive and mad to put it right."

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