Michael Murphy must wait to see if club versus country dilemma can be resolved
Donegal county board postpone for 24 hours decision on deferring county final
Michael Murphy (left) in action for his club Glenswilly against Stephen Black of St Michaels in the 2011 Donegal senior football final, which Glenswilly won. Photograph: Kieran Murray/Inpho
Michael Murphy will learn later today if he is to be spared an expected club-versus-country dilemma. Donegal county board have postponed for 24 hours a final decision on deferring next Sunday week’s county football final between the Ireland captain’s club Glenswilly and Killybegs.
The main problem for Murphy and the county is that ostensibly there isn’t anywhere to go for a postponement. A week later would create a clash with the second test and the following week sees the start of the Ulster championship with the Donegal champions due to face their Antrim counterparts St Gall’s.
Donegal have decided however to submit a request to the Ulster Council looking for a postponement of the provincial championship first round. If the request is granted, the county will have to decide on the issue of a postponement but Killybegs have not agreed to Glenswilly’s application for a postponement.
This may offer a lifeline for the dilemma facing Murphy, who is scheduled to captain Ireland in the first test of the international series against Australia the night before in Cavan.
The move was unexpected. “To date there has been no move to switch the fixture,” said county chair Seán Dunnion earlier in the day. “As of now the final goes ahead on Sunday 20th May. There’s more than one game involved because there’s also the reserve final and the 25th anniversary presentation to the Killybegs team of 1988.”
That presentation is a further issue, as a number of the anniversary team live abroad or are due to be at sea and have made arrangements to be home for the original date.
There was speculation that Murphy’s role in the first test in Breffni Park might be limited to leading the team out and playing for a short amount of time but any such accommodation would have to be agreed with Ireland manager Paul Earley.
Speaking last night Earley said he was hopeful that anything which might accommodate Murphy’s full participation would be done. “I don’t know what will happen to Donegal’s request but I’m grateful for their efforts in trying to facilitate Michael. He’s not the only player with these difficulties and we’ll have wait and see how successfully the others can be facilitated but some have had to leave.”
Asked which players he was referring to, he said: “At the moment Brendan Murphy [Carlow], who’s captain of his club [Rathvilly), has had to walk away and James McCarthy is in the same situation, as Ballymun are still involved in Dublin and hoping to go the distance this year. Ciarán McKeever [Armagh] is down for his club’s [St Patrick’s Cullyhanna] first county final on the same day [20th October].”
He also reiterated comments he made last week about the growing difficulty of securing the release of players for the international series with county championships running later and later.
“It’s difficult because club competitions are being pushed back further and further in the year. I think maybe seven or eight years ago, you might have had a smaller number involved at this stage because a lot of club competitions would be over.
“But a lot of counties have only started in August and some in September. It is more difficult. It’s hard for the players. They’re training with the club and the international squad. We want to make sure we don’t overload them and that they are fresh as well and not over trained. It is challenging. They are the constraints we’re working under.”
Earley confirmed that he would announce an extended panel today – to make allowances for players who do end up club-tied – for the two tests, in Cavan on Saturday week and in Croke Park a week later.
Meanwhile, the Kerry county board has announced plans for the development of a centre of excellence costing nearly €6,000,000. It will be based in IT Tralee with associated playing pitches and training facilities at Currans, Farranfore and will be developed in three phases. It is hoped that the first phase, the centre itself in ITT, will be completed by early 2016.
The Kerry Group, which is marking 26 years of involvement with the GAA in Kerry, has undertaken to contribute €1,000,000 to the project and although the first phase is still short €1,000,000, a fund raising drive will be launched in Britain and the US and county chair Patrick O’Sullivan emphasised that clubs in the county would not be asked to contribute to the project.