“Forged bonds that will go with me throughout my life” - Donegal legend Michael Murphy announces retirement
"I always knew the day would come when this chapter of my life would have to close."
Michael Murphy - one of the stand-out players of his footballing generation - has announced he is retiring from the inter-county game.
The Donegal forward, who won Sam Maguire in 2012, five Ulster titles and claimed three All Star awards, is stepping away from inter-county football at the age of 33, and after 15 seasons lining out in yellow and green.
In releasing a statement on the retirement of Michael Murphy, a spokesperson for Donegal GAA wrote:
'Regarded by many, many people as Donegal’s greatest ever player he also captained the Ireland International Rules team and just three All-Stars Awards seems a scant measure of his colossal role in Gaelic Football across three decades. Outside the white lines Michael is a gentleman of the highest order, always with time to speak with fans, particularly the younger ones.'
As poignant and fitting as those words were, it was the personal statement released by the man himself that strikes home as perfectly as one of his rangy, arcing scores.
Michael Murphy releases personal statement
The tributes and accolades about his fine inter-county career will flow in the coming hours and days, we are sure.
However, there is no better man to sum up the journey of Michael Murphy as the talented pup himself. He writes:
'To have the chance to combine a sport I love with the place I love for 20 years of my life is a privilege and honour for which I am very grateful. But I always knew the day would come when this chapter of my life would have to close. Now, that day has arrived.
'I still love Gaelic football and I still love Donegal. However, in the team I’m proud to have captained, to compete at the level which Donegal deserves requires the best I can give every day. I no longer feel I have the energy and capacity to reach the performance levels to give my best to Donegal.
'The last time we sat together in the changing rooms in Clones, I told my teammates that whatever happened in the future, Donegal will always go on. That’s still my belief. I cannot and never will be able to express how thankful I am to my teammates and managers and those giving expert support over the seasons. Friendships and bonds have been forged which go with me throughout my life.
'To those good people who support our county team and everyone I know in Donegal: they say we are different up here. Well, we are different in the best of ways. Thank you to all of you who have made this journey very special for me. I look forward to pulling on a Donegal jersey and joining you in the terraces to support our teams.
'To my own family and my club Glenswilly GAA, you’ve always been there for me, through the highs and the lows. It was you who made the sacrifices so that I could follow my dream. My family and my club are at the centre of all my plans for the future. They deserve the best of me too. Maybe in the years ahead, I’ll find new ways to offer something more to my home county.'
The end of a damn fine Donegal career.