A year ago he brought the Sam Maguire home to Donegal. Last weekend he tasted glory with club and country. Michael Murphy clearly is a man for all seasons.
The Donegal forward led Ireland to a 57-35 win over Australia in the first test of the International Rules series in Cavan on Saturday night.
Less than 18 hours later he was part of the Glenswilly team that beat Killybegs – with Irish soccer international Seamus Coleman in the crowd – in the Donegal senior football final.
He played most of Saturday’s game for Ireland and a key role in the Glenswilly side that won comfortably by 3-19 to 2-6 on Sunday after a tiring weekend that ended with smiles on all fronts for the affable student.
And even Murphy acknowledged to the Irish Sun after the county final that the hardest part of his weekend was making the decision to play for club and country after the fixture clash became apparent and made national headlines.
Murphy said, “It was a decision that I made 10 days ago. I went with it and I wasn’t going to argue, crib or cry like I maybe might have been able to do. Adrenaline is a great thing, isn’t it?
“The big thing was trying to make the decision. It was a horrible decision to have to make, but credit to both the Ireland manager and the club. It wasn’t easy because the club might have felt that I was turning my back on them.
“That was never the case. Once I made the decision it was just a matter of getting the head down and challenge for the two games. It’s football: It’s what I enjoy doing, what I love and, as a young fella, if you were told you’d play for your country and then your club in a county final, you’d take that.”
Murphy played a starring role for Ireland on Saturday night as Paul Earley’s side built up a 22 point lead at the halfway point in their bid to retain the Cormac McAnallen Cup.
Ireland will take a 57-35 lead into the second game at Croke Park on Saturday night, but Murphy knows the Aussies will be a different prospect as they grow accustomed to the demands of the round ball.
He said, “We started off well but the Australians came back into it and we finished with a couple of good scores near the end.
“It’s only halfway now, we go on to Croke Park. We’ll look at the things we need to improve upon and keep her lit.”
Ireland led 17-4 at the end of the first quarter and 11-5 at halftime in front of almost 20,000 fans at Breffni Park in Cavan on Saturday night.
The Aussies did get to grips with the compromise game in the third quarter and got within eight points of Ireland early in the fourth quarter before a late Kevin McLoughlin goal ensured a comfortable winning margin for the home side.
Murphy added, “The Australians are professionals. At the end of the day they’re always going to get their purple patch.
“The big quarter that they pride themselves on is the third quarter, their championship quarter.
“I suppose they came into it a bit in the second and third and even there near the end they were always still coming.
“You’d expect that from them but thankfully we held our composure and got a couple of scores that brought us over the line.”
Like Murphy, Laois-born Aussie Rules star Zach Tuohy expects a backlash from the tourists in Croke Park this Saturday night.
A goal scorer on Saturday night for Ireland, Tuohy knows there is more to come from an Australian team adapting to the demands of the hybrid game and he wants work on it this week.
Tuohy said, “We can’t really rely on our own game plan. It worked in the first half, but when they mixed it with us and went one and one, we really struggled.
“It’s an area that we have to work on and we must put something in place before the second test.”
Former Roscommon star Earley took charge of the Ireland team for the first time on Saturday night and was happy with the result and the performance.
“Really pleased with the win. We controlled three of the four quarters. The Australians came strong in the third quarter and in their game momentum is a huge thing, we have seen it many, many times in AFL where the team gets two or three goals on the trot they can get six or seven on the trot and can really kill a game,” he said.
“I was really pleased the way our guys responded in that last quarter and finished the game really strongly.”
Like his players, Earley knows the Australians will be a different prospect second time around at Croke Park.
“Both teams came to the first test match without having any meaningful practice. It’s akin to going in to a Rugby World Cup or a Soccer World Cup not having played a competitive match for a year or two years and expecting to perform out of your skins at the start,” Earley said.
“It’s going to take a while for both sides to get to the pitch of the game and the first quarter sometimes isn’t good in the first Test but I think the third quarter was obviously very good for the Australians and they improved as the game went on.
“The six-pointers are huge for them and when they get one you can see them lifting and their intensity lifted as well. Our boys controlled the game for long periods and I was pleased about that.
“Our kicking skills were good and we may have got a few more three-pointers in the second quarter and pushed it out further but we are pleased with the way it finished.”
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