Donegal must make a case for the defence insists former star

By Michael McMullan

FORMER Donegal star Joyce McMullin feels Michael Murphy’s retirement will leave a “huge void” to fill, but hopes the new management can unearth some solid defenders.

In a feature interview this week, McMullin remarked how he has enjoyed watching Donegal in recent seasons, but feels they have struggled defensively.

New manager Paddy Carr begins his tenure against Down on Sunday and Páirc Esler with All-Ireland champions Kerry coming to Ballybofey for the league opener later this month.

“I don’t know where they are going to be unearthed from, but we need three or four solid defenders.

“Someone remarked to me that we have a lot of forwards playing in our defence at the moment, that is an issue for the incoming management,” McMullin said.

“All defences are based on two or three Neil McGee, (Frank) McGlynn, Karl Lacey type players who can defend really well.

“When you don’t have that, you are always struggling. I wouldn’t blame the defence for not beating Derry last year, although they could’ve (won), but it is just one of those things.”

McMullin, who curbed the attacking threat of Paul Curran in the 1992 All-Ireland final, highlighted how manager Brian McEniff put the onus on his half-forward trio to make Dublin’s all-action half-back line defend. He also points to the shortage of out and out defenders in the game nowadays.

“When I was going to matches when Karl Lacey was playing, Karl would always be marking Peter Canavan, Diarmuid Marsden or the best player on the opposition team and those confrontations used to be phenomenal and really interesting to watch,” said McMullin, a selector with the Four Masters team narrowly beaten by Dungiven in Sunday’s Ulster final.

“That has really changed with his mass defence where nobody is really marking anybody one to one.

“There are three or four marking space and I think that has cost us a bit.

“I don’t think we are really creating these people who can go one on one with a job against any player they meet.

“That’s the challenge we face and I hope the incoming manager can see it that way and work on a defensive system.”

McMullin also said nobody can begrudge former skipper Michael Murphy, who he said was a joy to watch, his downtime after the service he gave to the county and new leaders must step forward.

“Somebody is going to step forward and fill those boots,” he said. “There are young lads there, Michael Langan and (Jason) McGee to step up and say “Murphy’s not here, I am going it by the scruff of the neck today” and that’s what we need.

“Sometimes it takes a bit of time for those leaders to come into position, but I think they will come, they always do.”

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