Captain, Man of the Match and the contributor of a 2nd minute rocket that handed Donegal an advantage they never looked like relinquishing.
This was to prove no ordinary Sunday for DCU student Michael Murphy who captained Donegal to only their second All-Ireland football championship title in a wave of emotion at Croke Park, overcoming Mayo by 2-11 to 0-13.
Twenty years had passed since Sam last resided in the North East and the distinction fell to Murphy to lead the celebrations up and down the roads of the Inishowen Peninsula, through Ardara and Glenties and on to Gweedore.
In the game itself, just two and a half minutes had elapsed when the PE and Biology student rose highest to fetch Karl Lacey’s delivery, turn and unleash a rocket to the roof of David Clarke’s goal.
The strike was a strong indication that Murphy would lead by example and so he did, winning some crucial frees, fisting that late point and tallying 1-4 in total. Indeed, that 2nd minute pile-driver set the tone for a Donegal scoring bust that ultimately decided the outcome.
In the build-up to the decider, a lot had been said about Murphy not scoring enough throughout the season and how McGuinness’ system failed to utilise the most talented player within the squad, but the Glenswilly man answered all critics with an immense 70 minute contribution.
Other DCU representatives on the Donegal panel included current students Martin McElhinney (introduced after 48 minutes), Michael Boyle and Antoin McFadden as well as graduates Paul Durcan and Declan Walsh.
DCU President Professor Brian MacCraith said the achievements of Michael Murphy reflected strongly on the college’s unerring commitment to sport.
“We are delighted to be home to the All-Ireland winning captain. In fact, this is the second year in-a-row that DCU has been home to the All-Ireland winning captain as we had Bryan Cullen last year leading Dublin to glory. We are also delighted with the other students who were part of the Donegal panel.
“DCU GAA is the one of the biggest successes we’ve ever had. Up and down the country the letters DCU are synonymous with excellence in GAA. When people hear DCU they immediately think of our football players who represent both their county and college with distinction. Last year we had 52 students playing inter-county football and this is all part of the commitment to sport in the college,” continued Professor MacCraith.
Aaron Clogher, former DCU GAA Chairperson and current VP for Education, paid tribute to the achievements of the DCU students. “It is a fantastic honour and a privilege for our University to be the academic home of the All Ireland winning captain for the second year in succession. We would like to congratulate all the DCU students and Graduates involved in the success and we look forward to welcoming the lads back to campus.”
Neil Collins, VP for Welfare, who soldiered alongside the aforementioned Donegal players in last season’s Sigerson success, said their feat is one that very few footballers get to achieve. “Many footballers have worked extremely hard, but few have achieved greatness, which is what the lads have done. It is a real privilege for us to have the lads here in DCU, as they are role models for many of the students.”
IMAGE CREDIT: Sportsfile
Eoghan Cormican is our Sports Editor