Niall Murphy hopes Sligo can acquire winning habit
By Cian O'Connell
The spring defeats hurt, but Niall Murphy still believes significant potential exists in Sligo.
A decade of sheer hard graft in the underage ranks has led to an improvement at Post Primary level with Murphy adamant that progress can be made in the future.
One of the most accomplished forwards in the west, Murphy is disappointed that some important players aren't currently involved in the set-up ahead of Sunday's Connacht Senior Football Championship Semi-Final against Galway at Markievicz Park.
Relegation from Division Three of the Allianz Football League was a setback. "It was, there is no hiding from that, it was disappointing," Murphy admits.
"The positives to take were that we had a lot of young and new lads, who got game time where other years they mightn't. That was a huge positive out of it.
"Other positives were we did improve in the games and we ran some teams very close and we were unlucky in other League games. In the second game we played Down, one of the favourites to go up, and we lost with a last minute goal.
"We had three sendings offs in the games so it might have been closer than it looked. They are the learnings you have to take to bring it forward into the Championship."
Some encouragement is also taken from the manner in which Sligo Colleges have performed in second level competition in recent years. Murphy acknowledges the promise in Sligo.
"There absolutely is, there is potential in every county if you get lads to commit to the one thing," Murphy says.
"Unfortunately in Sligo every year we seem to have a huge turnover in players. Obviously you'll have older lads leaving, but a lot of lads have no interest or are taking the year out.
"That is the case in Sligo this year which is really disappointing because you want to be keeping your best players and working with them.
"Looking at some of the younger lads they have felt a bit of success, they have been very close in Connacht finals so hopefully they can stay for the next couple of years and that experience will stand to them in the summer months."
Acquiring a winning habit again is crucial according to Murphy if all the most talented footballers in Sligo are to commit fully once more.
"Yeah, we can talk as much as you want, but if you aren't winning it is the number one factor in terms of getting lads out," Murphy remarks.
"That is what you'd be hoping for come next year. We are down in Division Four, hopefully we can shoot straight back up, it might generate some popularity around ourselves and a bit more interest in younger lads and getting them back playing.
"If you are at the top table in Division Four you have the chance to play at Croke Park, small things like that.
"Ultimately you want to be winning games. The likes of Sligo is a small county and you need everyone playing, everyone in behind the one wheel. Hopefully going forward that will be the case."
When Murphy started playing the Yeats county were always highly competitive pushing for provincial honours. The landscape is different now.
"It is, when I was growing up Sligo were competing strongly," Murphy replies. "Back in the early noughties they were up in Croke Park regularly, then 2007, 2010, and 2012 competing in Connacht finals.
"That experience was there watching on and being involved so it is frustrating that we are maybe not at that level. With this young team behind us hopefully we can see a bit of positivity and we might reap the rewards in the coming years with these young lads."