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Donegal manager Declan Bonner hails 'outstanding' Michael Murphy display
Last Updated: 30/03/19 8:39pm
Michael Murphy played a starring role for Donegal as they came from behind to beat Meath in the Division 2 final at Croke Park.
The 29-year-old was named man of the match after the 1-17 to 1-15 victory on Saturday evening, kicking seven points in the process, and his manager reserved special praise for him after the game.
"He's just a real leader," said Bonner. "He brings so much to the group in terms of that leadership quality, the experience and just the quality. I thought his second-half performance was outstanding.
"I thought his second-half performance was outstanding."
Bonner was impressed with Murphy's showing
"Michael's influence is so important. The more we can play Michael in closer to goal, then the more dangerous Michael is.
"We do have more options [further out the field] with the likes of Michael Langan, Jason McGee, Caolan McGonagle, Hugh McFadden and Ciaran Thompson. Those are all big lads that can play either middle of the field or in those half-forward roles."
Bonner is content that his side are moving in the right direction ahead of the summer, after winning promotion back to Division 1.
"We still have a lot of work to do but there's been huge progress to be quite honest," he said.
"We're moving in the right direction, maybe slowly. It's great to get back to Division 1, that was our number one goal. But when you get to Croke Park you want to win, we spoke about it during the week. It's always nice to pick up silverware here."
Bonner's opposite number, Andy McEntee also hailed the Tír Chonaill full forward.
"He was a huge factor," the Meath boss said of Murphy. "I don't know what he walked away with score-wise, but he's a target man."
However, McEntee questioned if the Glenswilly man could have been given his marching orders after he was initially booked in the 16th minute. Royals fans were incensed after Murphy was not shown a card for a second-half challenge on Cillian O'Sullivan.
"He's very influential in a lot of areas," McEntee continued. "He's very influential all around the field.
"We get a guy (Shane Gallagher) who gets two yellow cards, and I think Michael gets booked and gets ticked on maybe three or four occasions. Is that possible? Maybe I'm exaggerating but I doubt it."
Despite Saturday's loss, Meath can be happy with their springtime campaign, winning promotion to the top tier for the first time since 2006.
"I think that's a fair understatement," McEntee laughed, when asked if they are in a better place than 12 months ago.
"There's no doubt. There's initial disappointment with not winning the game there today, but we can take an awful lot from our performances throughout the league, and even from the performance there today. It wasn't a no-show."