"It was just frustrating seeing parks and public places open in bigger cities" 3 months ago

"It was just frustrating seeing parks and public places open in bigger cities"

Up in Glenswilly, Michael Murphy just wants to get back at it.

Back out on to Páirc Naomh Columba, back to kick a few points and back to the place where he belongs.

For more than three months now, GAA grounds this island over have been closed. Gates locked and pitches empty.

For almost a month now, there has been no new case of Covid-19 in the county of Donegal. Go figure.

Now Michael Murphy is no man to kick up a fuss and he makes an effort to see both sides of the argument but that those in rural Glenswilly have to put up with the same strict containment measures being deployed in Dublin which is effectively the virus' epicentre, is 'frustrating' to him. To him and to everyone.

"Probably for ourselves here, speaking selfishly from a Donegal point of view and a rural country point of view and from being here in Glenswilly -  a lot of our activity as a parish is based at the pitch and it was just frustrating. You were looking at the tv and seeing parks and public places open in bigger cities..."

"That was a little bit frustrating so far as they’re up there doing that, why can’t we go out to our pitch?

"You bring yourself back to the serious nature of this pandemic and you realise you just have to hold your horses and that the club will eventually become the hub of the locality again soon," he adds.

Sooner rather than later would be apt.

The only way is up though and the GAA's most recent road-map has provided a ray of light after the tunnel. Murphy can't wait to get back playing competitive games with his club on July 31 but he stresses that county boards must be vigilant of the demands of players playing club and county. Don't over expand yourselves, he warned at the re-launch of The Toughest Trade.

"I can't wait but then my fears lie a little bit in that I hope the structures in both inter-county and club are compromised enough to not be too expansive so that we can throw ourselves at each of them.

"I just feel if we make it really expansive, loads and loads of games in our club championships and the same in our inter-county championship then eventually there's going to be a crossover somewhere and as a result you're not going to be able to give yourself solely to the team."

The Donegal captain is thankful for the fact that his county have a smooth system in place where it would only take six games (three group and three knock-out) to win a county championship, but he feels that's the limit.

"Anything more than that, then you're delving into, well how do we prepare for inter-county championship? And then you're getting into grey areas and murky waters where I just believe it's not, I mean, if we go into any more games than that then all of a sudden, you're in a situation where we're speaking about a knockout county championship and all of a sudden then, you have the teams who potentially gets through to the final have a seven-day turnaround for a knockout one-off game in an inter-county season so I do believe it is achievable for us. How achievable it is for all those other counties? I don't know."

In general, Murphy does find the overlapping demands on county/club players frustrating and he would prefer if there was a slot in the calendar to wholly dedicate oneself to the given team.

"The overlap at times is kind of frustrating in so far as there's no real blueprint. Whereas it seems at the moment over this short period from what we're half-hearing or speculating, it's going to be club for a certain period and then it's going to be county for a certain period.

"So in the back of my head as a footballer it gives you the opportunity to throw yourself at that club for a certain period, move on, throw yourself at the county for a certain period.

"Whereas in a normal season it seems to be grey, it seems to be intertwined throughout, and you're making decisions on a weekly, two-week basis, about will I be able to play that club league game with an inter-county game on the next week or will I be able to play a League game the week after an inter-county game."

The Donegal hero was speaking at the launch of The Toughest Trade and he admits that professional lifestyle appealed to him, though the lure of Donegal kept dragging him back.

I’ve always enjoyed rugby, I enjoy sport, I love all sports. I always loved watching rugby. The opportunity when it came around to go to Australia, the one thing that just nagged me as the years have passed on was what it would have been like to be a professional sportsperson, and to live that lifestyle.

Glenswilly and Donegal footballer Michael Murphy is pictured ahead of the final two episodes of AIB’s GAA series ‘The Toughest Trade’ on Virgin Media Television this summer. The series features GAA stars Aidan O’Shea, Michael Murphy, Lee Chin, and Brendan Maher as they swap sports with their counterparts in American Football, Rugby, Ice Hockey and Cricket.