Monday 20 November 2017

Murphy rebuffs Nixon

Donegal ace has no intention of leaving for AFL

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

DONEGAL shooting star Michael Murphy is saying 'thanks, but no thanks' to overtures from Australian Rules scout Ricky Nixon.

Murphy (20) plays his last match at U-21 grade in the Cadbury's All-Ireland football final against Dublin in Cavan on Saturday evening, and after that he has his sights set on a long career as a county senior footballer.

Last year's Young Player of the Year admits: "I'm a home bird at heart."

The big man from the Glenswilly club has settled in as a freshman at DCU, where he lives on campus. Murphy did engage in contact with Nixon early in the year, but said that had more to do with "common courtesy" than anything else.

"It was just more out of common courtesy than anything I was speaking to them. There's been nothing, absolutely nothing, in my mind that's changed," Murphy said. "I want to stay here and keep continuing to play football for Donegal, and trying to get my degree at college.

"Anyway, I'm a bit of a home bird. Moving to Dublin has been enough for me never mind the far side of the world."

Murphy is in big demand for county, club and college, but missed out on DCU's Sigerson Cup win because freshers aren't allowed play in the main third-level football competition.

Burn-out is not a word that he would apply to his situation. "I don't think it's been too tough. When you're winning, games can't come quick enough. If you were on the other end of getting defeats and drubbings every weekend it would be a different story.

"Things are going relatively well at the moment. Thankfully the managers at both club and college and both senior and U-21 county level have been in regular communication with each other," said Murphy.

An All-Ireland medal is a tantalising prospect for a Donegal side which has emerged from a competitive Ulster championship. Can they go all the way at the expense of the Dubs? Murphy certainly hopes they can.

"Any All-Ireland final is a massive game. It's something you always dreamed of as a young fella.

"With the way our performances have been going, they've been steadily improving from one game to the next, and hopefully that'll be the case again come the All-Ireland final on Saturday," said Murphy.

Meanwhile, Dublin team manager Jim Gavin eagerly awaits the challenge of the final, and feels that the quality of football underlines the value of the U-21 grade to the GAA.

"I think it would be a regrettable decision for the GAA if they did finish the U-21 competition. I'm a traditionalist, and I've seen the fight and the competitiveness in each of the games throughout every province.

"It's winner takes all and it's a very good product to promote Gaelic football. The games are always very competitive. There's fast, open football and it's another opportunity for guys to represent their counties.

"I think the U-21 campaign is really a better benchmark for senior grade, rather than minor. The minor these days is two years too soon for senior grade, so I think it (U-21) benefits the whole organisation," said Gavin.

He also suggests it's regrettable for the players that the match is not being played at Croke Park because they miss out on a chance to play an All-Ireland on the hallowed turf at Jones's Road.

"It's not about Dublin," Gavin said. "It's about the overall competition, and whether you want to give guys from all of the 32 counties an opportunity to play at Croke Park at the end of the campaign.

"That's what it's about. It's not about Dublin. We'll play wherever we're brought. We've no complaints with Cavan, but it would be very nice for every county concerned to get a chance to play at Croke Park."

Irish Independent

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