McFadden: Jim 'put the belief back into Donegal'

An All-Ireland senior title-winning captain at just 23, the scorer of 1-4 in the final and the man-of-the-match to boot. It was quite a Sunday for Donegal's Michael Murphy.

McFadden: Jim 'put the belief back into Donegal'

An All-Ireland senior title-winning captain at just 23, the scorer of 1-4 in the final and the man-of-the-match to boot. It was quite a Sunday for Donegal's Michael Murphy.

The twin threats of Murphy and Colm McFadden outscored Mayo on their own, tallying up 2-8 between them, as the Ulster kingpins ran out four-point winners of yesterday's All-Ireland final at Croke Park.

Jim McGuinness' tactical tweaks in taking the Tir Chonaill men from being a defence-focused team in 2011 to this year's high-scoring exploits - they averaged 17 points per Championship match - have certainly paid off.

The manner of their rise to All-Ireland champions' status was all the more satisfying for Murphy given the criticism they shipped for the way they played in previous seasons.

"It hasn't kicked in yet and I don't think it will either. It is an absolutely unbelievable feeling," he said in the aftermath of the 2-11 to 0-13 win.

"To be written off for so many years and even written off last year and a wee bit this year, the character of the whole team and the people of Donegal really shone through I think. That was the most pleasing aspect.

"To see so many smiles on faces, and long may it continue over the next couple of weeks. It is something we have dreamed about for many years and to actually get over the line is an unbelievable feeling."

It was clear that the Glenswilly youngster had been blown away by the achievement of winning only Donegal's second All-Ireland SFC crown, matching the feats of the Anthony Molloy-led 1992 side.

Murphy grew up in awe of Brian McEniff's trailblazers - a photo exists of Murphy posing with Molloy soon after that historic first All-Ireland success - and lashing home such a memorable goal as his third-minute strike yesterday was another dream come true.

"Certain scenarios can crop up that win games. It's something you visualise when you are younger and something you visualise in the weeks leading up to the game, that a scenario like that might arise and if it does you have to capitalise on it as best you can," he added.

"It was nice to have done that. It was just unfortunate that midway through the first half and into the latter stages that we didn't carry on playing the way we normally do and that affected us and affected the scoreboard."

Ten years on from his Championship debut for Donegal, Colm McFadden finally has the prized possession of an All-Ireland winners' medal in his pocket.

It was a long time coming for a forward that has soldiered for many years without much individual or team success.

McFadden, the 2012 Championship's top scorer with 4-32, credits his brother-in-law Jim McGuinness with giving the panel the necessary belief to reach such heights as yesterday.

"As the years went on, we kind of got knocked out in the first round of the Championship and maybe early on in the backdoor as well, and we were probably getting up in the years as well. So, later on in the career, I probably thought it wasn't going to happen," he conceded.

"But when Jim came in two years ago, the first thing he did was put the belief back into us. It just didn't happen overnight, slowly but surely we all started believing.

"Last year's Ulster Championship win would have given us a lot of belief and after the Dublin game in last year's semi-final, we would have learned a lot from that. We would have left here that day disappointed we were beat but hungry to come back."

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