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Donegal star wants knockout football return and business worries in new climate

Michael Murphy reopened up his sports shop this week.

Updated Jun 11th 2020, 8:29 PM

DONEGAL CAPTAIN MICHAEL Murphy says there are lingering worries for him after reopening his sports and leisure shop this week.

Michael Murphy Donegal star Michael Murphy. Source: Sportsfile

With Ireland entering phase two of the Government’s roadmap for easing restrictions amid Covid-19, all retail shops were permitted to open again from Monday once safety measures are in place.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s announcement was a “confidence booster” for the Glenswilly star as he resumed his work at Michael Murphy Sports and Leisure. It was a relief for Murphy to get his enterprise back up and running again, and he was confident that all the social distancing protocols could be implemented to ensure the health and safety of his customers.

“Happy to get back to more of what we’d classify as a normal routine, something similar to what we would have had before,” Murphy explained.

“So from that point of view, happy to get back up and going.”

But, as the economy continues to grapple with Covid-19, the future holds many unknowns for business owners like Murphy.

The finance minister Paschal Donohoe said earlier this year that the impact of Covid-19 has resulted in a “severe recession” in Ireland, while our recovery in the second half of 2020 is dependent on the successful containment of the virus.

Murphy maintains that he is optimistic, but he admits that he does have concerns about what the future holds for his shop and his workforce.

I have been worried and I still am worried, definitely, even though we are back up and running again. I suppose the climate of what we’re moved into now is something we’re worried about.

“Is there a new climate to stay here for good and do we need to make radical changes to our business in terms of our through the door policy as well as our online policy? There’s definitely a continued worry there to try to figure out what the trend is going to be.

Working to keep staff in jobs is at the forefront of our minds along with customer service. That’s the big driver for me.

“I probably look at it the same as a football team, you’re trying to keep everybody on the football team happy and you want to try to keep staff happy, and, at the moment, with the lack of footfall coming through the door it’s probably more difficult to go back to absolutely full staffing hours.

“But I hope and I believe that we’re going to get there and get the staff that we had with us before this pandemic back up and going and get the town of Letterkenny back up and moving again and get the county back up and going again.”

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michael-murphy-and-niall-kearns Murphy in action for Donegal in the National League earlier this year. Source: Evan Logan/INPHO

There has also been some movement in the GAA in relation to easing Covid-19 restrictions and opening up the association again. Walkways at club grounds were reopened to the public this week, while club fixtures are set to resume on 31 July.

Training in groups of ten are permitted from 29 June when club pitches open, but inter-county matches will start no earlier than 31 October.

It has also been reported that the GAA is considering announcing its plans for a revised 2020 Championship earlier than scheduled, and may possibly unveil its schedule later this month.

Murphy says his club Glenswilly are in the “early stages” of putting safety protocols in place of their return training and games, and says that a knockout championship is the best option for the inter-county game in these unprecedented times.

“At the moment, the whole club is really just trying to pull it together of how we can actually get back training and playing our games in that safe manner.

“Obviously, it seems like we’re going down the line of club championships first which I think is great. And I suppose from our own perspective, and Donegal, I think it’s going to dovetail really well.

“I think if we’re starting a championship in October I think knockout has to be looked at in order for us to finish the inter-county championship in a calendar year.

“People can say the merits of that isn’t fair but it’s the compromises we’re going to need to make in order to get a sufficient enough of time off the back of the club championship, to prepare for the inter-county championship.”

 Michael Murphy was speaking ahead of the final two episodes of AIB’s GAA series ‘The Toughest Trade’ on Virgin Media Television this summer. 

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