Michael Murphy continues to roll back the years as he leads Donegal to Ulster semi-final 2 months ago

Michael Murphy continues to roll back the years as he leads Donegal to Ulster semi-final

Leadership personified.

It's probably the most obvious statement in the world, but Michael Murphy is one hell of a footballer.

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At 32 years of age, the Donegal captain covered every blade of grass as he led his side to a comfortable victory over Armagh on Sunday.

With the Orchard county's impressive league campaign, and the way they successfully got their suspended players back for the game, including the talismanic Rian O'Neill, many tipped them to get the win today.

However, Declan Bonner's side tactically outwitted their opposition in the first half, particularly with the kick outs as they pressed up high on their opposition, forcing the goalkeeper to go long, and Jason McGee dominated from there.

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Straight from the throw in for the second half, Armagh went on the attack, kicking an early high ball into Rian O'Neill who brilliantly caught it, but fell backwards and after some fumbles in the box it made its way into the net. However, the referee said it was a free out for Donegal.

The away team then spent the next ten minutes with most of the possession and most of the chances, but it was the home side who got the opening score.

Armagh's wastefulness in front of goal cost them greatly, as Donegal continued to tip away at the score boards and eventually accumulated a big lead.

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It was game over when Paddy McBrearty palmed the ball into the net, as the older statesmen proved to be the difference between the sides.

Ryan McHugh picked up the Man of the Match  award, but the moments of true inspiration came from Murphy.

In the first half he swung over a beautiful point from roughly 45 yards out, and although many will prefer to see him play in the full forward role, there's no doubt he brings so much to the team in the middle of the field as well.

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At one stage he was all the way back near his own goal, and his passion turned to fury when Aidan Forker was penalised for tackling with closed fists.

The number 14 was absolutely livid, and then just a few minutes later he used his rage as fuel when he burst through the middle of the park with the ball, and held onto it to the very last second, giving Michael Langan just enough time to make the run, before popping the ball into space to set up a golden goal chance that the midfielder could have taken himself.

His leadership came to the front as well when Hugh McFadden kicked a loose ball away; the Glenswilly man turned to let his teammate know exactly what he thought of it, and demanded better.

Armagh overall were a little underwhelming and Donegal will be looking to continue this fine form as they now play Cavan in the Ulster semi-final.

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