Michael Murphy just wants to play football 3 months ago

Michael Murphy just wants to play football

He who laughs last, laughs longest.

Michael Murphy jogs onto the pitch and he knows it, Declan Bonner knows it and surer than anyone else, Gareth McKinless knows it that Donegal are in a place they never wanted to be. 25 minutes left and the cotton wool is off, the hamstring is out because if Murphy didn't know before, as McKinless shouldered him once into the shoulder and twice into the chest, he certainly knew now that Donegal were losing this game by three points.

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It was hardly your standard jolt and we'll belt away, it was two proper welcome to the Ulster championships that only a saint wouldn't have reacted to. As if McKinless hadn't done enough, the brilliant Brendan Rogers soon arrived onto the scene with all the shapes of a peacemaker but with all the tugs and slaps of a trouble-maker and whether you thought it was bad form or a sign of Derry's desire, it didn't matter because you were already telling the person beside you that this is championship now.

As it turned out, Murphy was an absolute saint. The Glenswilly player didn't have to open his mouth because his body language, as he gazed over the two boys as if they weren't even there, told it all. I'll do my talking with the ball and I'll hit ye back on the scoreboard.

"He's getting hopped off by McKinless, he's getting hopped off by Brendan Rogers but he doesn't seem to give a shit," said Colm Parkinson on Monday's GAA Hour Show.

A very enthusiastic how are you getting on from McKinless

A second bite

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There's more where that came from

Murphy didn't want to know about it

"He's just so used to it at this stage," added Alan Brogan, "that every time he comes onto a field he gets the few hits and the trash-talk but he doesn't even flinch."

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He hadn't even touched the ball but the game had already changed.

That first touch came about a minute later, when after a clever ball down the line from Michael Langan - clever because he passed it to Murphy - no sooner had the Donegal captain ran onto it before Rogers was spooked and Coldrick was giving the free. That free led to a full minute of keep-ball before they played the out-ball, into Murphy who was fouled again before converting himself.

They say the best players have a presence and that was all it took to distract the Derry players from the defending they had mastered for the previous 45 minutes. It was only five minutes later when two of them were drawn to the big man to give Niall O'Donnell the freedom of the day to pick his spot.

"Without doing anything spectacular, he made a big difference when he came on, he just seemed to settle the whole team around him," added Brogan.

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That's what Michael Murphy does.