Michael Murphy: Semi-final and final will be competitive - but it's hard to see Dublin being taken down
Michael Murphy was in the thick of things when Dublin were last defeated in the championship - Donegal shocked them in the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final - but he can't see anyone stopping them from reaching five-in-a-row next month.
"It's just this level of consistency that they seem to be able to bring to it and they've added more players to their armoury. It is difficult to see any team beating them. Will teams be competitive with them? Definitely, in the semi-final or final, but it's just difficult to see someone beating them." the two-time All-Star said.
Mayo are up next, hoping to halt Dublin's date with destiny and while Murphy feels "it's going to happen some time", he can't see them causing an upset, given the ruthless efficiency of the Dubs.
"Any time Mayo have played Dublin, they have been close to them, they have proven that. They seem to be able to play to a sustained level for 70 minutes, more than any other team can do it. They will need all of that and they will know that.
"And when they come up the road, knowing they can do it. Having proven and done that last week, there is no reason why they can't do it again seven days later.
"Dublin's style is, I wouldn't use the word cautious, but it is a lot more careful in their build-up. The likelihood of mistakes have been diminished, or seems to be diminished. You rarely see them now with missed shots.
"Their plan really revolves around creating the best possible scoring opportunity and taking that.
"And they seem to be very careful in doing so. They are phenomenal players.
"I suppose they have diminished the likelihood of making any mistakes and they have all bought into that, from 'keeper right the way up to all the subs coming in."
For Murphy, the past few days have seen the pain of defeat and the realisation that Donegal’s championship campaign dawn slowly.
Picking up the PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month award for July is scant consolation for pouring his heart and soul into the Donegal once again without reaching the pinnacle, neither is an Ulster title.
Making the last four, and going beyond that if possible, is what Murphy will judge Donegal’s season on and the Glenswilly powerhouse is still reeling from defeat to Mayo last Saturday night in Castlebar.
“Your whole year goes into it. Your whole belief around it, no matter what people are saying or thinking and no matter how many injuries we did have, I did think we were on to something this year,” Murphy said.
“We weren’t playing absolutely brilliantly but I thought we were hitting a level of consistency that we hadn’t hit last year and to not be able to hit anywhere near that against Mayo was gut-wrenching.”
There’s a long winter ahead to ponder what might have been, but Murphy insists that Donegal will “suck it up” and go harder than ever next year .
“I do believe the team is improving, I do believe the team is on the right track, but you need to prove that. It is easy saying that sitting here now, it is easy having that belief but you need to go and prove it,” he said.
“And we haven’t done it in our two biggest games over the last two years. We just need to suck it up, go back to the clubs, go back training again, it’s just a long way around to next year again.”
The 29-year-old is hopeful that veterans like Frank McGlynn and Neil McGee hang on for at least another year while the return of Kieran Gillespie from injury will boost their squad but as of last Saturday, Murphy is a spectator for the rest of the season.