Donegal captain Michael Murphy doesn’t care what format the All-Ireland senior football championship takes this year so long as it takes place and safely.
As the Irish Examiner reported yesterday, a straight knock-out structure is on the cards should the inter-county season resume in October, as the GAA suggested in their statement on Wednesday.
Whether it starts against Tyrone in an Ulster SFC quarter-final as he had hoped on Sunday week or in a national open draw, Murphy just wants to see Championship being played so long as people’s welfare is taken into account.
“Football, football, I just want football back. If it’s done through Ulster well and good, we love the Ulster championship, it’s something we have always loved in Donegal. If it’s done through a 32-county open draw listen bring it on too.
“If we get the word in the morning that it’s one of them, I’d gladly snatch it with both hands if it can be done in a safe as possible way for everybody, the public, the players, supporters then I would grab it with both hands whatever way it is done.
“We’re living in times that are not normal and we just have to try and get back to some normality and that’s football, and if it’s done through an Ulster championship draw or a 32-county open draw I’d take their hands off to get back and do it.”
This is the Glenswilly man’s 14th season and he is not considering this “a year wiped out”. He is trying to take the positives out of the GAA’s decision to keep pitches closed and collective training banned until July 20.
“Initially, you were a wee bit downhearted, I suppose. But as the time has passed over the last 24 hours the more as a player you are warming to the fact that there is a definite minimum time, if you know what I mean. You are not worried that it is going to be sprung on you in the way anything can be spring on your in four or five weeks’ time. It gives a little bit more of a blanket in that regard so that is where I’m at at the moment.
“Speaking to a good few of the players over the last 24 hours, I think that’s where their heads are at too. Having to deal with that uncertainty or ambiguity is just part of life now at the minute. It is probably a little bit trickier than normal given the structured nature of the GAA season.”
Murphy closed his sports shop in Letterkenny just before the lockdown although it continues to operate online. A course in sports and exercise psychology from Jordanstown is keeping him busy too and he is remaining optimistic about his livelihood. “It’s definitely strange and difficult but you just have to prepare yourself too for when it does reopen and be positive.
“The world is going to reopen again and it’s going to go back to normal again. Sport is going to come back to normal again so we need to ready ourselves for when that does happen and in the meantime just get ourselves through it as positively as possible and try and keep everybody as healthy as possible.”
Michael Murphy was speaking at the launch of R.E.S.T, an important new mental fitness campaign developed by the GPA and WGPA in partnership with the mental health charity, Pieta. R.E.S.T reminds us all of the importance of Routine, Exercise, Sleep and Talk. Be the champion of your own mental fitness and never underestimate the power of #REST.