Donegal’s Michael Murphy is the latest big name player in Ulster to acknowledge that their tactics will have to change in order to challenge Dublin at Croke Park.
Monaghan ace Conor McManus admitted after last year’s Championship that he doesn’t believe, ‘you can beat Dublin playing a defensive system’.
Former All-Ireland winning captain Murphy has now conceded that Donegal will have to change their style too and introduce more long kicking than they’ve been used to.
“We would have probably been perceived as more of a running based team, which traditionally has been our game in Donegal,” said Murphy.
“What the reasons are for that, I don’t know. Maybe along the coastline with windy pitches there’s no point in kicking the ball a lot of the time. That’s maybe what it is, but that’s something we’re definitely trying to address. I do feel there has to be a small bit of a shift on it.
“I don’t want to come out now and be misquoted, that we’re going to be kicking ball left, right and centre this year. But yes, we would like to think we can add it a little bit more.”
Dublin, the three-in-a-row All-Ireland champions, easily picked apart Monaghan and Tyrone’s blanket defences in last year’s All-Ireland series.
“You’d have to say that a lot of Ulster teams are ball carrying teams,” Murphy continued. “If you compare and contrast that to Dublin’s game, the Kerry game or Mayo’s game, obviously they are carrying teams too but they add in the kick and when you get into the bigger open spaces in Croke Park and are playing the game over 70, 75 and sometimes 80 minutes, that’s probably a more energy efficient type of way to play.”
New Donegal manager Declan Bonner is going to experiment with aspects of their style during the league.
“Is it vital to stay up in Division 1? Ideally, yes,” said Murphy. “But if we were to get these improvements that we feel we need to tweak from last year, if we get them through the league and that means an indifferent league, then so be it.”
Murphy himself had written off the majority of Donegal’s campaign after groin surgery that followed the International Rules series but is optimistic he could be back sooner than expected. He is unsure if he’ll retain the captaincy as that is currently held by Hugh McFadden and said he expects to play more in the forwards this year, as opposed to midfield. “That’s the hope,” he said. “It’s whatever Declan thinks but the discussions with him so far are to maybe try and get up the field a little bit more.”
* The third Sport Industry Awards, which recognises and reward excellence in the business of sport, while highlighting the contribution of sport to Ireland, will be held at Dublin City Hall on February 22.
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