By Shaun Casey
LIFE after Michael Murphy got off to a brilliant start for Donegal last Sunday, with Paddy McBrearty’s late score landing a huge one-point win over All-Ireland champions Kerry.
Former Donegal forward Brendan Devenney believes that the main goal for the Tir Chonaill men is to retain their place in the top tier and insists the people of Donegal are willing to get behind Paddy Carr and the new management team.
“It’s hard to know what the season is going to bring; the Donegal people want to get behind the management,” said Devenney. “I think first, and foremost Donegal want to stay in Division One and go on into Ulster, then we’ve got the new (All-Ireland) format.
“Where you are in the league matters so it’s a big season for Donegal and a lot of guys are going to have to step up. There’s an awful lot of football to be played so we’re just waiting to see what comes out of this new team and this new management. We’re going to be positive, and we’ll see but it’s a tough division.”
Murphy is still a huge loss according to Devenney, who believes the Glenswilly giant will go down as Donegal’s best ever. “People go on about him being the best (Donegal player ever), you cut him in half and he’s number one and two. There’s nobody can touch him,” added Devenney.
“The next to him is (Karl) Lacey, he was phenomenal, four All-Stars and everything he won, but he’s way off Murphy. He was a one-off type of player, so it just remains to be seen the void that has. Donegal last year, we were under pressure physically, so if there’s one thing, we need it’s physicality.”
Division One is hugely competitive and there’s a lot of football to be played. As usual, the Ulster Championship is going to be impossible to call and Devenney doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.
“Armagh are right up there, very close to the top teams. There’s maybe a lot of question marks hanging over Donegal, Monaghan the same, Tyrone, we really don’t know. They had such an off year last year; they won the All-Ireland the year before so you’d think they should be back.
“Derry are Derry, I think they’re missing a forward line but they’re so rigid in defence, they’re going to be hard to beat. For Ulster, I’d expect Tyrone to be back, Armagh are second and after that it’s hard to pick between Derry, Monaghan and Donegal for what’s next.”