1955 - Kerry beat Dublin and the story of Donie Murphy

by Weeshie Fogarty

It was the very first time I attended an All Ireland final and 1955 would remain forever etched deep in my memory. I traveled to Dublin with some of my boyhood friends including cousins Con O Mara and Con Clifford both of whom later wore the green and gold. Con o Mara holds the unique record of captaining Killarney to their one and only Kerry senior hurling county championship victory in 1969 Sadly both men died at a young age, a cruel blow to their wives and family's. Kerry had a convincing 3-7 to 0-4 win over Waterford in the opening round that year of '55 played in Listowel. Tom Costello helping himself to two goals. In July I saw the green and gold in action for the first time in my life as Kerry beat Cork in sweltering conditions in Killarney,0-14 to 2-6. 45,000 supporters crammed Fitzgerald's Stadium that memorable day. The terrace was black with people packed together like sardines. No such slogan as health and safety and not a safty barrier to be seen. Even the boundary wall served as a vantage point and it was from hear that I viewed my first Munster final. Memories of that day are of some superb long range points lofted over by Paudie Sheehy and Tadghie Lyne.

One Kerry star however would forever have bitter sweet memories of that 1955 Munster final. When the Kerry team togged out under the direction of renowned trainer Dr Eamonn o Sullivan in one of the patients wards in the Mental Hospital overlooking the stadium little did their brilliant full back Donie Murphy realize that he was pulling on the Kerry jersey for the very last time in his life? Donie a member of my own club and one of my boyhood heroes won a minor All Ireland medal with Kerry in 1946 beating Dublin 3-7 to 2-3. Years later Donie recalled that minor final win for me as we sat in his home in Castlebar where he later settled down. "We did no training for the final" he remarked. "I was on Kevin Heffernan and held him to a point and I can still hear the Kerry followers in the long stand singing as the final whistle sounded, "roll out the barrel we have the blues on the run". Two years later he made his championship debut against Clare as Kerry had an easy win in Ballybunion. He would continue to be first choice for one of the full back line positions until 1955 when illness ended that brilliant career.

He looks back to 1951 and wonders if a bout of pleurisy he developed following a club game in Dublin had left a legacy which would later end his career. That necessitated six weeks in Jervis Street hospital Dublin. He captured his only Celtic cross in 1953 when Kerry defeated Armagh in that wonderful and dramatic final. Following that 1955 win over Cork Donie gradually began to feel unwell and a visit to the doctor followed by a series of X-Rays confirmed his worst fears. He had developed tuberculosis, far more serious in those days than now.

He spent seventeen months in hospital, underwent an operation and lay in bed as Kerry marched on the win the All Ireland. The team visited him in hospital with the cup and as his career came to that very premature end a club mate of his and great friend Johnny Culloty was just beginning his career as he came on as a sub in that Munster final. For twenty five year old Donie Murphy from South Hill Muckross Killarney it was a shattering experience but his marvelous attitude to life came shinning through when he said to me. "It could be far worse Weeshie, thank God for that one All ireland medal, many the great player have none".

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