BUZZING: Moville teenager Dáithí Peto with his card from Michael Murphy.
A young Donegal Gaelic footballer got the perfect early Christmas present this week after being sent a hand-written note from his sporting hero Michael Murphy.
Moville Community College first year pupil Dáithí Peto wrote to the Donegal captain as part of his English class's formal writing project - and was shocked when a response landed at the school.
The 13-year-old explained: "About ten days ago we had to write a letter to a celebrity or someone we looked up to. I chose Michael Murphy because I play Gaelic and I think a lot of him because he always plays his best and really steps up in big matches.
"We were in Irish class on Thursday when the secretary came in with post for me, and everyone was saying 'could it be Michael?' I opened it and it was a thank-you card from him with a really long message inside - I was surprised as I wasn't expecting him to write back."
The Glenswilly man's message included words of advice on how to be the best, as well as dealing with big match nerves - two questions the youngster had asked him in his original letter.
"PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! urged the All-Ireland winner. "You must practice and prepare at home on your own and at training with your team in order to be the best player you can possibly be."
And, while he may be the picture of steely composure on the pitch, Murphy admitted he was no stranger to the jitters himself.
"I still get a little nervous at times," he wrote, "however I have realised the more I prepare in training before the games, the more confident and less nervous I feel going into them."
Delighted Dáithí, who plays as a full back with Moville's U14s and is on this season's Coláistí Inis Eoghain Dalton Cup squad, has the card sitting proudly on his beside table - and is determined to put Murphy's words of wisdom to good use.
"Michael added a PS saying I should use the time off school over Christmas to get plenty of practice in," he said.
"Our first Dalton Cup match is in the new year and our school team is doing well in the county championship, so I will definitely be doing what he said."
And the teenager's mum Brigeen says they were blown away by the kindness of the Donegal legend.
She said: "Michael gave a very detailed message that answered the questions Dáithí had asked him, and I just think that's such a nice thing, for him to take the time to do that when he has such a busy schedule.
"Dáithí is really buzzing, as Michael would be a real hero of his. His wee brother plays GAA too, and he has been looking away at the card in complete awe ever since Dáithí brought it home."
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