Mick Murphy RIP

February 26th, 2009
by Weeshie Fogarty

The death on Saturday last of Mick Murphy, Ventry, saw the passing of one of Kerry's most celebrated sportsmen. A retired national school teacher, Mick Murphy, who was in his late 70s, was better known to his countless friends as Micheál Ó Murchú.

My first meeting with this unassuming man was during the late 50s when attending Strand Street Boys National School in Tralee. Mick was a fine strapping young man and was appointed teacher in the school, one of his first assignments. Mick by then had been carving a name for himself on the Gaelic football fields of Kerry and Ireland.

At a tender age he represented Dingle in the 1951 Kerry Senior Football final, he was partnered at midfield by the great Tom Ashe, along with other household names Paddy Ban Brosnan, Timeneen Brosnan, Bill Casey, Tommy Long, Bill Dillon - they lost the final to Dick Fitzgerald's Killarney. This was the beginning of a glittering career in football for Mick who went on to display his silken skills in Croke Park on All Ireland day and in the Kerry showpiece of the year, the County final.

Mick Murphy threw in his lot with Kerins O'Rahillys. Mick was one of my heroes and his displays for the blues were always cherished by the boys in the school.

Kerins O'Rahillys were riding the crest of the wave in Kerry football in the 50s having won the championship in 1953 the same year Mick Murphy figured on the Kerry Senior football panel that won the All-Ireland, with Strand Road's Jas Murphy (capt) and Johnny Foley guarding the net. Mick didn't figure among the medal holders. 1954 was another vintage year with Strand Road winning the Bishop Moynihan trophy, 1956 was the next occasion the Little Road reached the Kerry decider and Mick Murphy was an influential player in the Blues march who came up against a star studded South Kerry team.

Mick resided in Cloonbeg Terrace, Boherbee and played a starring role in what is still talked about as Kerry's finest All Ireland victory, the 1955 success over Heffos Army - Dublin. Mick scored one of Kerry's points in the final and the midfield pairing of John Dowling and Denis O'Shea were to play with Mick in further Strand Road success in 1957.

Mick was also selected on the Irish team in 1956 when Ireland beat the pick of the combined Universities by one point. Mick won Munster Senior medals in 1955 and 1958. The West Kerryman who endeared himself to all in his adopted Strand road played in three Railway Cup finals with Munster, '56, '57, '58.

One of his proudest days in his long football career was in 1957 when Kerins O'Rahillys won the Kerry Senior Football Championship, defeating St Brendans. Mick lined out in the No14 jersey with Sean McCarthy and Garry Clifford forming a powerful full forward. Mick moved out of town when Strand Street school closed in 1959 but he continued to assist the men of Strand road, they were denied another championship in 1958 in a battle to South Kerry. The man from Ventry lost his third county final in 1961 when the Blues were defeated by the great John Mitchels. Mick Murphy's name will always be spoken of with love and affection in Strand Road. He was a lovely gentle kind man and a footballer whose name is up there with all the best since the club was formed.

He made friends easily and his love for Strand Road never waned. I met up with Mick often on my visits to Dingle, Lispole, Gaeltacht or any other grounds where football was played, Mick would speak with affection about his many friends in the Little Road. Mick was also a renowned greyhound enthusiast and won many big prizes in the Tracks of Tralee, Munster and Ireland with his dogs who ran under the prefix of Fionntra. When the Kerins O'Rahillys winning County Championship team of 1957 celebrated their golden jubilee two years ago Mick came together with all his former football pals at a banquet in the Brandon.

Mick was predeceased by his wife and is survived by his sons, daughters and extended family, and his many friends in football and greyhounds.

Mick Murphy a sportsman was a legend in Kerry folklore and dearly loved by all. He was laid to rest in Ventry Cemetery on Tuesday.

May the sod rest gently on his dear soul.

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