Extra Time

Perfect Player by Donegal’s Barry Cunningham

scoring ability

Which player that you’ve seen was the best at scoring?

Of course that would have to be Michael Murphy, a man we can rely on to get big scores when we need them. His goal in the 2012 All-Ireland Final was truly special, magnified by the importance of the occasion and the moment. He won his own ball, used his strength to hold off the defender and fired an unstoppable shot to the net which sent us on our way to victory. When I think of that score I wonder have we played Michael to his strengths often enough?


The player who was most skilful?

The game I played required different skill sets for every position on the pitch. It’s very difficult from here to single out one player’s skill level from all the rest. Was Larry Tomkins any good in goals? I can’t say. What I can say is that the greatest level of skill that I witnessed on a football pitch occurred throughout our championship run in 1996. Over the course of the season our keeper David Meehan made numerous top class saves and was easily the best goalkeeper in the country that year. Without him we would have been out in the first round. He lived life without regard to consequence and that’s the way he played. Some of the saves he made that year left everyone present in stunned silence. He wasn’t a man who hunted out praise and the nature of the man left him wondering what all the fuss was about. He’s badly missed about the place.


Which player who you’ve played with or

against had the best onfield intelligence

I used to enjoy playing with Martin Mc Hugh, if the pass was on, the pass came. I was on the field about a minute in the 1992 final with Martin in possession. I noticed a large gap in the centre of the Dublin defence. Was it anything to do with Micko? Who knows? If I made the move and the pass came then we would be through on them. I made the move and the pass did come, perfectly executed. There I was in the middle of Croke park with the ball under my oxter. I proceeded up the pitch using the skills learned from Patrick John and trying not to make a fool of myself at the same time. I reached the 21 yard line before winning a handy free, a simple score created by the correct pass at the correct time, executed correctly.


The player you think is the best motivator/strongest player

When I think of strong men and great leaders I immediately think of Denis Carbery. He played with the county up to minor level but then went fishing. A great loss to the county. He broke a bone in his hand in one of the early games in our championship run in 1996. Between our second and third replay with Ardara he broke a bone in his other hand one night in the Harbour bar. What can I say? Different times! We thought he was out, and we were worried. What a sight it was to see him in the dressing room before the game getting his two hands bandaged, what a motivation for us, and what a game he played!

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