Murphy revels in Glenmore's County Final win
By John Harrington
Eoin Murphy’s voice is a bit hoarse at the moment, which is perfectly understandable.
He was a key man for his club Glenmore as they triumphed in the Kilkenny Intermediate Hurling Final last weekend to seal a return to the senior grade for the first time since 2005, and the celebrations have been considerable.
The achievement means an awful lot to Murphy whose family are long steeped in the club.
His brothers Alan and Shane are team-mates, his father, Paddy, is a former club chairperson, his uncle Tom played alongside Paddy for years back in the day, and his grandfather was a club founder.
“We've been soldiering now from whenever you can start playing hurling,” said Murphy today at the launch today of the new Avonmore Pro-Oats product.
“There's two small schools here. It's not the case that it's an overly big parish. When you are going out, you're going out with the boys. If you're doing anything, you're doing it with the boys. There's connections all over the field.
“Our family is steeped in it, but no different to the Aylwards as well - that includes Ger and Marky. Then you have Eoin Aylward, his father Neddy, I think there four players on the team where he didn't have an involvement coaching them underage. It is a small club. You're relying mostly on the same lads to do the coaching, helping out.
“There was as huge amount of emotion afterwards. We've been long enough knocking on the door there. A great couple of days.”
Murphy was part of the Glenmore team that was relegated to the junior ranks back in 2014, an experience he once described as “pure devastation”.
He felt at the time like he’d let down his club and his family, so Sunday’s win over St. Lachtain’s was a redemptive one.
“The time when we got relegated to junior, we probably had a bad year,” he says. “We were probably stuck in a bit of a rut, hit a bit of a plateau. We weren't really progressing out of the first round to a quarter-final or anything like that. Maybe we were a little bit rudderless.
“Going back down, it reinvigorated every one. We had to change tack. We have a serious set up below. We have two full size pitches, a walking area around it. We have an indoor astroturf, four fully kitted out dressing rooms, an unbelievable gym that we fundraised for last year. It's kitted out with absolutely everything. The community put that there for us.
“It felt like we left them down [when we were relegated in 2014]. Hopefully, they can take a piece of last week, as well as the players.”
Murphy was to the fore for Glenmore in Sunday’s win. He might be known nationally as one of the top goalkeepers in the game, but at club level he’s a hugely influential centre-back.
“I think I've only played one game in goal the club back in 2006,” he says. “There were lads gone away on holidays, and between injuries, and different things - the three or four goalkeepers at the time were all missing, so I stood up to the plate. That was the only time I've played in goal for Glenmore at adult level.
“I've been centre-back for the last couple of years. I've been midfield, forwards, for a couple of years before that. I've played centre-back before, Fitzgibbon with the college and WIT. I don't mind it, when you're a centre-back and a good organiser, and a good communicator, and telling everyone to come back and cover me, it helps. I'll play anywhere.”
Not surprisingly, the conversation with Murphy at today’s launch quickly turned to Henry Shefflin’s appointment as Galway manager, a development the Kilkenny goalkeeper didn’t see coming.
“I suppose a bit surprised,” he said. “A bit similar to everyone else, I think there were a couple of days when maybe it was going elsewhere. There was a decision made, and somebody else had the job. There was an element of surprise.
"Henry, always when he was playing, he was extremely driven and ambitious and I don't think you lose that just because you've retired from playing. You can see it in him.
“He took up the mantle with Ballyhale when he retired straight away and you know, they probably walked through Kilkenny the years he was there. It's a great gig for him. The amount of good hurlers they have up there.
“I know from talking to one or two of the Galway boys, they're excited to start working with him whenever that will be but he is an ambitious person so to take up an opportunity like that, why wouldn't he?
“It still will be weird. I won't be going looking for his autograph or anything like that now but, no listen, it would be much worse for the Ballyhale guys because they've been soldiering with him for a good few years playing and then obviously coaching as well.
“We warned TJ as well like, if Henry's calling up looking for any information, you better kick him back out the gate!”