BY FRANK CRAIG
Donegal captain Michael Murphy described Ryan McHugh’s action-packed efforts over the 76 or so minutes at Croke Park on Sunday as “phenomenal”.
The Kilcar dynamo delivered one of the real great Donegal performances as Declan Bonner’s men and Kerry evenly split an absolutely blinding game of football at HQ.
Murphy himself was again hugely influential. But he rightly signalled out McHugh for special praise.
“He was simply phenomenal.
Ryan is a class player. He gives everything for his county and today was no different.”
As for his own crucial 53rd minute spot kick that again propelled Donegal to the fore, he said: “It was just a case of hitting the back of the net. I remember it was a very good move. Daire (O Baoill) tried to get his shot away but was impeded.
“Whether the penalty had gone in or not, I felt we were starting to click at that stage and beginning to play well. That was the encouraging thing.”
The skipper also boomed over two outrageous frees in a row in the second-half that definitely cleared at least 50m each. But his uncharacteristic first-half miss from a much more attractive position was the one he instead chose to centred in on.
“I missed an easy one in the first half. I wasn’t happy with that. It was a poor miss. But everyone really chipped in today.
“We know he can do that. I was delighted for him. Ryan McHugh…what more can I say. Patrick McBrearty looked really sharp. Jamie Brennan was pushing. Michael Langan hit a couple of big scores too. We needed all of that.”
Deep into the red and with Donegal one behind, Murphy clipped over the equaliser with the last kick of the game. It brought the curtain down on what can only be described as an instant classic.
“It was in that little bit closer so I though I’d kick it from the hands,” he explained on swapping technique. “I was just relieved to see it clear the bar. We’d have been really disappointed to have come away from the game with nothing.
“But it leaves us in more or less the same scenario. We still have to go to Castlebar and get the win. We’ve a tight group. We’re looking forward to getting up the road.
“We”ll look to recover and get the bodies right. Hopefully, we’ll have a few more back in now because of the two-week break. And I think we will have.
“It’s going to be huge now in two weeks time.”