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Dublin: 10°C Tuesday 19 January 2021
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'It's rubbish' - Michael Murphy on Meath manager's claim he influences referees

Andy McEntee labelled Murphy ‘the bould Michael’ after the Division 2 final.

Michael Murphy during Donegal's qualifier win over Meath in 2017.
Michael Murphy during Donegal's qualifier win over Meath in 2017.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

DONEGAL’S MICHAEL MURPHY has labelled Andy McEntee’s suggestion that he influenced the referee in the recent Division 2 final as “rubbish”.

Speaking after a game where the Royals had defender Shane Gallagher sent-off late on, McEntee was unhappy that Donegal didn’t also finish with 14 men after a couple of robust challenges from Murphy that irritated Royals fans.

He received a yellow card in the opening quarter and put in another couple of hefty challenges, including a foul on Cillian O’Sullivan in the second-half, but managed to stay on the field.

“He’s very influential in a lot of areas,” said McEntee. “He’s very influential. He’s very influential all around the field.

“We get a guy who gets two yellow cards and I think the bould Michael gets booked and gets ticked on maybe three or four occasions? Is that possible? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m exaggerating but I doubt it.”

Murphy, who kicked seven points in the Croke Park victory, shrugged off the Meath manager’s criticism.

“What do you say to it?” he asked. “It wouldn’t be a bad thing to have even though it’s rubbish.

“There’s sometimes and some instances where you commit a foul and you get a yellow card but I’m in no place to influence anything. I got out and play the game as best I can as an individual.

“What else can you do? As a player, your job is to go out and play on the football field. My job now is to go out and get as fit as possible for the coming championship game against Fermanagh in seven weeks.

“That’s all that’ll be in the head of myself and the rest of the team. We’re just trying to push ourselves until then.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been asked about it in an interview or anything like that. It’s a difficult one to answer. It’s the first time it’s come up.”

Sinead Ahearn and Michael Murphy Michael Murphy of Donegal launching the 2019 Kellogg's Cul Camps campaign at Croke Park. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Murphy returned to the fold late in 2019 after spending the first half of the league campaign rehabbing a knee injury. He underwent surgery in January but feels he’s rediscovering his fitness.

“I had knee surgery in early January and I managed to rehab myself back. When I got back into things it was that fourth game in the National League and I was just glad to get a number of league games underneath the belt because it wasn’t looking good at the start of January.

“The speed of the National League now is gone through the roof. It’s right up on par with what a championship game would be. It takes a little while longer, I’d hoped to be back a wee bit earlier in the league but the operation and recuperating from that took a wee while longer than normal.

“Touch wood everything’s good at the moment and I’ll push forward now towards championship.”

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He returned to help propel the county towards promotion to the top flight, while a number of youngsters impressed for Declan Bonner’s side during his absence.

“The league as a whole in terms of the National League was big. We played in a lot of venues, away to Cork, Tipperary and Clare.

“They’re three trips away and for the younger lads to play those away games and to feel the hostility an away game brings and also to come out on top in a few of them and even though the experience of losing isn’t something you want to feel too much for them to experience that was quite important.

“So it was crucial for them and for them to show their ability. They’re definitely not lacking ability and we’re very excited about them up in Donegal with their ability levels. To get them games under the belt with the Donegal jersey on is important.”

Shane Gallagher with Oisin Gallen Oisin Gallen during the Division 2 league final. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Teenage corner-forward Oisin Gallen clipped over four points in the league decider against Meath and looks to be a fine prospect for the future. 

“He’s involved in a neighbouring club of my own in Ballybofey and I suppose we would have always heard of him coming up through the ranks,” says Murphy.

“He’s a great young lad and I suppose like with some young players, they take to the game and make it seem a bit easier than others. I must say he took to it really well, he doesn’t get too up or too down depending on performances. And more often than not, there’s good days with Oisin. 

“He’s very good technically and understands the game very well. To see him out here in Croke Park kicking four points from play in a league final was huge for him and huge for us all to see. Fair dues to him and he’s still young.

“No better man than Oisin to keep his own feet on the ground and he’ll look forward towards championship and putting his best foot forward too.”

Murphy got a front row view for Paddy McBrearty’s return to competitive action in a Donegal league game at the weekend. McBrearty is on course to make his comeback to the county jersey in the upcoming Ulster championship after recovering from a torn cruciate.

“We played Patrick’s club Kilcar on Sunday so it was brilliant for us all to see Patrick back. Obviously he suffered the dreaded cruciate and it’s not a nice injury. He was at the peak of his powers last summer and was playing some really good stuff for us.

“We were disappointed to lose him coming into a crucial time of year but he’s worked really hard to come back.

“For us all to see him out on the pitch for the last month or two gave us all a lift. Knowing Patrick and being a teammate of his for the last number of years, I know he’ll be mad hungry to get back out on the field and get the jersey back on and hit the form he had last year.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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