Michael Murphy has a nasty habit of catching me every year when I think I’m about to be shot by Donegal.
The problem with being human is that we all have to find a way to live with Murphy Goggles.
Like the moment you want to leave a relationship, your focus goes back to everything that was good about it, everything that was safe. ‘Remember that’ and ‘Forget that’ and what about all those times… it was oh so good? Do you really want to continue? Do you really think you’ll do better?
The Murphy Goggles magnify the good times and comfort, and all those hours of boredom or stress feel less important than they actually are in everyday life. The best parts come back in the moment you have to say goodbye. So much so that now they will tell you that these are the best days of your life.
Donegal has always been the complete package on paper and when they tried their best they have always been able to bring excitement into my life, but in reality Tír Chonaill has grown too complacent in that regard. Too many long, slow, boring days. No big plans for us, no big ambitions for ourselves. We couldn’t spice things up when they were getting stale and we lacked the stimulation. They just got too comfortable and let themselves go.
And now and then they put on a suit. Ryan McHugh ran the length of the pitch and came up with the most perfectly timed move only Ryan McHugh could pull off and Donegal would look absolutely stunning again.
Then they would catch my attention and get lazy again. They fell back into that slow pace of life because once the chase was over it was like they stopped trying to impress me.
So they threw in a Jamie Brennan or a Michael Langan or a Conor O’Donnell and swore they’d changed and I went right back in like a pitcher only to find out the immaculate decorations out front did . Doesn’t match the cluttered, confused decor inside.
Every time you try to let it go, the Murphy glasses rearranged what you were seeing. Forget the identity crisis, remember McBrearty’s argument against Derry?
Don’t worry about the crab habit, here’s Eoghan Bán Gallagher’s highlights film instead. Big gaming problems lately? Surely you know that Michael Murphy is one of the greatest big game players in the sport. They know they can change.
But year after year, good memories after good memories, we got no closer to the goal. And it never seemed like we’d ever go all the way.
Sometimes you just need to cut your losses, celebrate even the highs, but know that the lows will disappoint you more and more.
Sometimes, even though it goes against every instinct in your body, you have to force yourself to put it behind you, to trust that there is something better out there. No matter how much you want back, you know it’s not good for you. You even know it’s not what you want.
And then Michael Murphy pays attention again. He smiles and swaggers, making younger men look infinitely inferior in every physical respect. He’s leaving orange jerseys for dust, he’s swinging around, he’s catching with those sure hands, and he’s holding up another pair of Murphy goggles: c’mon, just a quick look won’t hurt anyone.
And it’s all the old stuff, but it’s new. It’s Ryan McHugh at his best. It’s a blurred silhouette of Eoghan Bán Gallagher speeding through Ballybofey like a cartoon speedster. It’s Langan from afar.
It is Donegal’s full-court press that fully targets the opposing goaltender and directs his kickouts into The Donegal Wall. McGee, McFadden, Murphy, Thompson, Langan – choose your poison, Ethan, poor soul.
It’s a corner back like Caolan Ward keeping his nerves under pressure, waiting for another run from McBrearty and playing the killer pass instead of fisting over the bar.
It’s Jason McGee, seemingly bouncing in the air on a trampoline. Brendan McCole shares a pair of shorts with Rian O’Neill. Peadar Mogan single-handedly reinvented the “don’t run into the tackle” coaching mantra to a simpler “just run past the tackle” philosophy.
You’re trying not to get drawn into all of this. We’ve been here before and Armagh were far from impressive and they should have scored. It wasn’t exactly a roaring attack on Orchard County, but it didn’t have to be.
Donegal was completely emotionless after a flurry of anger and drama. They were level headed, in complete control and letting Armagh climb out of the early doors.
They were tipped to lose to them for the first time since 1987 at Ballybofey and not for a minute did they really look like they might lose it.
If it wasn’t a game for the ages, it was a throwback to a time when teams like Donegal wielded the divide between the real deals and the rest of them. They went forward and said goodbye with minimal fuss and had time to turn around and wink at me.
Michael Murphy continued the flirtatious assault late as the home crowd roared with delight as they watched their legendary No 14 drift further and further away from the thrashing Armagh men desperate to catch him.
It was a real “look what you’re missing” moment. It was another vivid and beautiful reminder that the Murphy Goggles wanted you to believe that that’s all that matters.
If Donegal really loved me, they would just let me go. let me be happy
But, you know what? I don’t want them to do it. At least not yet.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/donegal-are-flirting-with-me-again-the-murphy-goggles-make-them-look-gorgeous-41584537.html Conán Doherty: “Donegal is flirting with me again – the Murphy goggles look stunning”