Sunday’s All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final will surely be a day of mixed emotions for Michael Murphy’s father – a Mayo native whose son is the Donegal captain.
Speaking recently, Murphy recalled watching the semi-final between Dublin and Mayo in the family home.
“It was good fun, alright. I suppose it was a nice opportunity where we’d already qualified ourselves, and it was a chance to look back and watch who we were coming up to face.
“And I suppose with the father being from Mayo, and many of the relations being from down there too, there was loud shouting for Mayo on the day. But once the final whistle went I had to rush over and turn the green and gold towards the father.”
The Donegal full-forward is counting on the time his father has spent in his adopted county to sway his heart away from the green and red - his native place.
“Tickets is the hot word on everybody’s lips here in the county at the moment” - Michael Murphy
“There’s myself playing and having coached some of the other players on the team here at the moment, I suppose whatever way it goes he’ll come out a winner,” Murphy junior said.
“I don’t like to speak on his behalf, but I’d say he’ll be supporting Donegal. I hope he will!”
Donegal’s qualification for their first All-Ireland final in 20 years has sent a buzz through the county, and has resulted in an inevitable scramble for match tickets.
And Murphy is hoping as many Tír Chonaill supporters as possible will manage to find their way into Croke Park come 3.30pm on Sunday.
“Tickets is the hot word on everybody’s lips here in the county at the moment,” Murphy said.
“Everbody’s worried over the past couple of weeks whether they’ll get enough tickets, and wondering how many tickets the county board and clubs will get.
“But here’s just hoping, I suppose, that everybody gets the tickets and gets out in Croke Park and we get the support that we’ve been getting all year from the whole Donegal crowd.”
Avoiding the hype must be a difficult task for the Donegal squad, but Murphy insists that finding a balance between the hype and the necessary preparation is the key to success.
“It’s really trying to find a happy medium,” he said.
“We’re trying not to get too caught up in all the hype, and at the same time I don’t think it’s right to cocoon yourself totally away from it – I wouldn’t that would be healthy either.
“So it’s just really trying to find a happy medium where you can go down the street and chat to people about it, and at the same time really focus on the job at hand.
“I suppose it’s a difficult thing to try and strike all the time, but I think it’s important that we try and find it most of the time and find your own wee corner and own wee space to keep focused on the job at hand, as they say.”
The Glenswilly clubman admits that “relief” was the over-riding feeling in the wake of the All-Ireland semi-final win over Cork, and that the Ulster champions were left with plenty of room for improvement.
“I suppose like in the Kerry game in the quarter-final, too, the concession of late goal really had the backs to the walls for us and it’s something we’re not happy with, and something that we’re really going to have to look at on the training ground in the lead-in to the game because we know that the performance we put in against Cork wouldn’t be good enough to overcome the Mayo side.”