Michael Murphy leading by example in the captaincy stakes

Michael Murphy will lead Donegal into an Ulster senior football championship final for the eighth time on Sunday hoping to get his hands on the Anglo-Celt Cup for the fifth time.

Michael Murphy leading by example in the captaincy stakes

Michael Murphy will lead Donegal into an Ulster senior football championship final for the eighth time on Sunday hoping to get his hands on the Anglo-Celt Cup for the fifth time.

The decider against Cavan in Clones will mark his 64th SFC Championship appearance and his 51st as captain.

Later that afternoon, after missing last year’s Leinster final through injury, Stephen Cluxton will be the first Dublin player to emerge from the Hogan Stand as he aims to lift the Delaney Cup for the sixth time.

Cluxton’s winning rate as skipper — now over 90% — is superior to Murphy’s, but he trails him in the captaincy stats, having hit the 40-game mark when Dublin defeated Kildare on June 9.

Murphy has been untouchable since taking over from Kevin Cassidy at the end of 2010, when Jim McGuinness recognised the leadership skills in the Glenswilly man, then still only 21.

In late 2012, Cluxton, at the behest of Jim Gavin, succeeded Bryan Cullen (now the team and Dublin’s high-performance manager) as skipper.

Another long-serving leader of men is Clare’s Gary Brennan, who took over from Alan Clohessy when Mick O’Dwyer replaced Micheál McDermott from 2013. Colm Collins had no hesitation in retaining the Clondegad midfielder as his leader ever since.

This weekend, the trio are among 10 of the 11 longest-serving current inter-county Gaelic football captains in action, the odd one out being Eoin Donnelly, whose Fermanagh were knocked out by Monaghan in Round 1. Donnelly, though, had been the talismanic force for the Erne County before he took over the reins from Ryan McCluskey for the 2014 season.

Donal Keogan now shares the Meath captaincy duties with Bryan Menton and the faith in the Rathkenny man to set an example goes back to December 2014, when Mick O’Dowd handed him the honour after previous skipper Kevin Reilly picked up a long-term injury.

Among the longest-serving captains to retire this past decade are Cork’s Graham Canty (six seasons, 2008-13), Limerick’s Seánie Buckley (five seasons, 2009, 2010, 2013-15) and Tyrone’s Seán Cavanagh (four seasons, 2014-17).

Cillian O’Connor was captain of Mayo for three consecutive years from 2016 before James Horan handed the role to Diarmuid O’Connor for 2019.

Prior to Colin Walshe, Conor McManus was captain for Monaghan for four seasons, at times sharing the responsibility with Owen Lennon.

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