From Millwall to Las Vegas The Kerryman who battled it out with

first_img“It was very disappointing as I didn’t feel any enjoyment out of getting a first championship appearance under those circumstances. Particularly because of the loss and a friend of mine and a fellow goalkeeper had that happen to him.“I felt it was totally unjust how that whole thing played out. I know it meant I got a championship start (the following June against Westmeath) but the rule was crazy that someone who got sent off in July can’t line-out for their team nearly a year later. It was just bananas but they were the rules.”And it just so happens that the 20-year-old who could start instead of Cluxton today won an All-Ireland U21 crown last season with Murphy as his goalkeeping coach. Bryan Murphy playing for Dublin in 2003 Source: Inpho****Long before Murphy ever wore blue, he was a promising young player rolling off the green and gold production line, which by the early 1990s had started to gather pace.A Kerry minor in ’93 and ’94, Murphy soldiered alongside players who would go on to become part of GAA royalty. He lists off his former minor team-mates: Darragh Ó Sé, Daire O’Cinneide, Liam Hassett, Eamonn Fitzmaurice, Mike Frank Russell, Barry O’Shea and Denis O’Dwyer.“We wouldn’t have realised how good some of the household names I mentioned were going to be, but they were all brilliant underage players,” Murphy says. A Munster title was annexed in ’93. The following year they went one better and claimed provincial and All-Ireland honours.“I bumped into Denis O’Dwyer on St Patrick’s Day in Killorglin this year for the first time in a long, long time. We were remarking that we were just glad the smartphones weren’t out back then!” he says before breaking into a fit of laughter.“All innocent fun. That connection when you bump into guys you would have played with over 20 years ago – you still remember.“Back then the Kerry senior team were going through a transition so unusually there was a lot of emphasis put on that success of the ’94 minor team.“It was the first All-Ireland minor since the ’88 success and Kerry hadn’t won an All-Ireland senior since ’86. In ’94 the minor and junior team won All-Irelands so that year would have produced quite a lot of the mainstay of the Kerry senior team as they broke back into All-Ireland success in ’97.”Murphy considers himself fortunate to have been around for the All-Ireland success. In between his minor seasons he spent time on trial at Mick McCarthy’s Milwall as he chased a professional career in soccer.He trained alongside the first team where Irish internationals Kenny Cunningham and Mark Kennedy and American goalkeeper Kasey Keller were plying their trade.“I was over for a few weeks. It was a fantastic experience. I performed solidly but not enough as many have gone before, to earn a contract. Looking back, if I did get a contract I wouldn’t have had the ’94 success and might have gone a different road. No regrets, looking back.“I would have been disappointed back then that I didn’t get to go back but looking back now I wouldn’t change a lot of the memories I have and what I learned from it and applied to other aspects of my game in GAA and soccer.” Bryan MurphyAfter completing his Leaving Cert the following summer, Murphy’s “mindset was to give soccer another go.” He signed up for Colaiste Ide Senior College in Dublin and joined League of Ireland First Division side Kilkenny City.Colaise Ide had a successful side filled with Irish schoolboy internationals and went on to win Dublin, Leinster and All-Ireland titles, but things were trickier with Kilkenny City.They were an amateur side made up mainly of teenagers and managed just two draws and 25 defeats in 27 games that season. Murphy reckons he was possibly the busiest goalkeeper in Europe that season.“We struggled, all my friends would always remind me how much we struggled,” he laughs.“The games I played in, I had loads to do. We had a very young side playing against higher standard opposition.” The 1995 First Division League of Ireland season Source: WikipediaOne of the two games they didn’t lose that season was against title-chasing Drogheda United, who were a semi-professional outfit. Murphy managed to keep a clean sheet and his outstanding display led to acclaim and 10/10 ratings in the national media.“That half-season have benefited me, as if you’re performing in the League of Ireland teams across the water are observing you,” he explains. Trials followed at Celtic and Crewe Alexandra but no offers arrived until a left-field inquiry came from a US college.At the time Boston University had Galway native Robert Forde (who went on to play with Shamrock Rovers and Galway United) on their books, but he was graduating soon and they wanted to recruit a first-year scholarship student.Boston’s Irish-based scout James O’Toole paved the way for an unlikely twist in Murphy’s journey.“Boston University came in,” says Murphy. “A concrete offer of a four-year scholarship that was probably worth a couple of hundred thousand dollars.“It was pretty hard to turn around and convince my parents that sticking around and playing League of Ireland was going to be a better option than a guaranteed education and experience in the States. We had a happy compromise. I got to go to the States play soccer and they were happy I got to go to college, so that was how it played out.“It was an amazing experience. I went over for pre-season in ’95 and I hit the ground running. The facilities were incredible. It was a massive eye-opener. It’s all now in place with elite inter-county football and professional sport, but it was obvious then the Americans were absolutely miles ahead of what I would have been accustomed to in terms of strength and conditioning.“From an enjoyment standpoint, it was excellent. College anywhere is a fantastic experience. As much as I had the soccer to enjoy and the social side, we were under pressure to maintain grades or the scholarship would be under jeopardy and you wouldn’t be eligible to play.“Boston University was a Division 1 athletic university and they had a strict criteria but I managed to keep all that ticking over and keep everyone happy. It was brilliant. My first game was in the University of Las Vegas Invitational. To go from wind and rain out in west Kerry or north Dublin, to 35 degree Celsius and playing a soccer match in Las Vegas was a strange transformation.“The team I came into as an 18-year-old would have been highly ranked nationally. They were the number one ranked team when I joined them and we performed very strong winning three conference championships in the America East and we played in the NCAAs which is the big college tournament for any sport.“Back then it was the infrastructure the US Soccer Federation used for developing their players so I regularly played against US, Jamaican and South American schoolboy internationals. We got to travel around the country and we were very well looked after. Everything in terms of your travel, your welfare and well-being were attended to.” 24,226 Views Short URL By Kevin O’Brien ****After his US adventure, Murphy moved to Dublin in the summer of ’99 and took up a job in the advertising industry. Initially, he made the three-hour spin home on weekends to play for Beaufort, and he even captained Mid-Kerry in their Kerry SFC quarter-final defeat to West Kerry in 2000.By the following year, Murphy threw his lot in with Dublin club Naomh Barróg, who draw their players from Kilbarrack in north of the county. He had a connection to the club after becoming friends with a number of Barróg players, including former Dublin player Dave Moore, during his time in the States.They were a senior club at the time and challenging for promotion from Division 2.In the winter of ’01, following Tommy Carr’s departure as Dublin county boss, Tommy Lyons took charge. Murphy’s outstanding shot-stopping in his debut campaign had drawn the attention of Lyons and he called the Kerryman up to his squad for the ’02 season.“I just felt, living and working in Dublin, and Kerry having a settled management team and squad, it was highly unlikely they were going to ask me to come down,” explains Murphy of the decision to switch his allegiance from green and gold to blue. Dublin manager Tommy Lyons in 2002 Source: INPHO“Under no way assuming I was any better than the goalkeepers than the goalkeeper that were already there, I wanted to see if I was up to the standard.“I got a slagging then and to this day my mates never let me forget it. I don’t say this lightly, I’m very proud I’m from Beaufort and Kerry. I’m very proud I’ve been fortunate to play for Beaufort, Kerry and Dublin.“You had the likes of Larry Tompkins, Shane Fahey back in the day who went from Kildare down to Cork. Other players have made the change, Karl O’Dwyer went from Kerry to Kildare and so on.“Guys have done it and I love that it’s not common in the GAA. When someone has to do it for where they’re based geographically and the practicalities of it, you’re looking at it as a being a professional: ‘I’m out here to represent myself, my family, all the coaches who’ve supported me and I absolutely want to beat any opponent including my former county.’“That would have been the mindset. I’m sure that would be the same as anybody else who’ve changed allegiances.” Source: INPHODavy Byrne’s retirement during the ’02 National League pitted Murphy up against a 19-year-old Stephen Cluxton for the Dublin number one jersey. Lyons rotated his keepers during the league that year and Murphy made his inter-county debut in a Division 2 clash against Offaly in Tullamore in March ’02.An Irish Independent report from that game stated Murphy “turned in a stunning display to earn his side a share of the spoils.” Despite being rivals for the starting position, Murphy and Cluxton would become close friends.“My initial impression of Stephen really hasn’t changed,” he says. “He was then and is still always excellent and always professional.“What we did well was there wasn’t a formal goalkeeping coach on the squad back then but we’d take it upon ourselves to apply drills we’d done, we researched drills and had a structure in place to do our thing together. That helped build up a strong rapport in that first season.“As is the case with anyone, the longer you’re in someone’s company you get the know them a lot better and we would become better and better friends as we got to know each other.“We sat beside each other on buses, roomed together on away trips and got to know our respective partners and families as well.”Cluxton eventually established himself as the first-choice and Murphy wasn’t to know then he was working with a man who would become an all-time great.In his brilliant autobiography Dub Sub Confidential, John Leonard (another Cluxton understudy who came along a few years after Murphy) gave in insight into Cluxton’s dedication to his craft.“When I was training I was trying to get any edge I could,” Leonard wrote. “Initially, I tried to go in earlier than Clucko but I couldn’t. He was in at 5 o’clock at training two hours ahead of everyone else. You could never get there before him.” John Leonard and Stephen Cluxton in 2008 Source: Donall Farmer/INPHOFortunately for Murphy, he didn’t have to worry about trying to get there ahead of Cluxton during his inter-county career.“We’d often travel to training together and go home together. So I knew I’d be arriving at the very least at the same time as him anyway.“He was always punctual. Start early, finish late. We had friendly competition in trying to knock over 45s and from the sidelines and all that.“Two things wouldn’t have been common back then and it just goes to show how far the game has transitioned. The short kick-out wasn’t an option, you’d get dropped off the squad if you tried one back then.“The other thing, a goalkeeper coming up the field to take a free would have been unheard of. Even back then you could see that Stephen had serious accuracy – not only from his long kick-outs but when he was shooting from left, centre or right at 40 metres or further he was ridiculously accurate.”Murphy won a Leinster title in ’02 and made his only championship start against Westmeath two years later, a game Dublin lost by 0-14 to 0-12 points to the eventual provincial champions.“I don’t remember a huge amount about it,” Murphy says of running out towards the blue wall of Hill 16 that day.“We knew Westmeath were a serious team. They had Dessie Dolan, Gary Connaughton and these All-Stars. They won an All-Ireland U21 in 99. The media were assuming Dublin had the history and this was a formality but that wasn’t the mindset of us going in.“It turned out to be a tight game, I didn’t have a huge amount to do, good point-taking from both teams and I think from memory Gary Connaughton made a crucial save late in the game and we just never did enough on the day to deserve it. Fair play to Westmeath they went on and got that Leinster title after.“It was mixed emotions because there was a certain element of pride to represent Dublin in a senior championship match but it was very disappointing that we didn’t win the game. I’d like to think I did everything I could on the day.”Murphy stepped away from the Dublin set-up at the end of the ’04 season to focus on work and family, but continued to line our with Naomh Barróg for years. Not the type of fella to sit still, before long he was immersed in coaching the next crop of stars in his adopted county.He played alongside Dessie Farrell for the Dubs and in 2007 started to cut his teeth on the coaching side of things alonside the Na Fianna legend.“Like a lot of the Dublin team during that era, he always made me feel welcome, we’d great friendships, great craic and plenty of slagging,” says Murphy. “I kept in touch and got a phone call.“Dessie is the kind of fella, when you get a phone call and if there’s something requested he’s a hard man to say no to because you just don’t want to say no. He’s such a gent.” Two-time All-Ireland U21 winning manager Dessie Farrell Source: Presseye/Philip Magowan/INPHOMurphy worked as goalkeeping coach, with some additional defence work, on the Dublin minor sides in ’11 and ’12, winning two Leinster medals and an All-Ireland crown. Then they moved onto the U21s and added four provincial titles and two All-Irelands in five seasons.A decade and a half after challenging Cluxton for the jersey, Murphy coached the young man who’s doing the same this season.“I was very privileged to work with Evan last year with the All-Ireland winning U21 side. Evan performed extremely well throughout the entire campaign. Very composed for such a young goalkeeper he was only 19, 20 during the campaign and excellent in terms of distribution.“As brilliant as Clucko is and has been, Jim Gavin made sure Evan got game-time during the National League. As the unfortunate circumstances happened in the Longford game, Evan was ready and he stepped right into it. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO“Coming in for a five-time All-Ireland winning absolute legend of the game, probably the best goalkeeper who’s ever played, Evan seemed to step into his stride seamlessly. I’d be delighted for the two of them to get the start.“As a career-long friend of Stephen and given his contribution, you’d hate for anyone to be ruled out of a game because of injury and I sincerely hope he makes a recovery to start in the Leinster final and lead out the team.“If Evan gets the call, I absolutely would be rooting and wishing Evan every success and he’s done everything as he should have and would be very deserving of his start in Clucko’s place if that happens to be the situation.”The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us! From Millwall to Las Vegas: The Kerryman who battled it out with Cluxton for the Dublin jersey Beaufort native Bryan Murphy embarked on an unusual career path that briefly saw him become the Dublin no. 1. Laois boss Sugrue following in the footsteps of South Kerry giants Micko and Páidí‘It’s more of a pride thing that it’s all us this year. All the players we have are from Kildare’ Share118 Tweet Email9 Sunday 24 Jun 2018, 7:00 AM Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article Source: InphoIN THE LEINSTER semi-final against Longford two weeks ago, Evan Comerford became the first goalkeeper not named Stephen Cluxton to play a championship game for Dublin in 14 years.It’s a little-known fact that the last player to do so was a Kerryman. Beaufort native Bryan Murphy, a minor All-Ireland winner with the Kingdom in 1994, was between the posts for the 2004 Leinster quarter-final against Páidí Ó Sé’s Westmeath, which Dublin lost.A rib injury could keep Cluxton out today’s provincial final against Laois and 14 years ago it was his suspension that paved the way for Murphy to make his first championship start for the Sky Blues. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHOCluxton was sent-off in Dublin’s 2003 All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Armagh for aiming a kick at Stephen McDonnell and Murphy made his championship debut aged 28.The Parnells stopper was suspended for their championship opener the following season, meaning Murphy donned the number one jersey made famous by legends like Paddy Cullen and John O’Leary.“I think Stephen McDonnell came out recently and mentioned there might have been a little bit of pre-activities that happened,” Murphy tells The42, referencing comments made by the Armagh legend five years ago where he admitted to giving Cluxton a “wee jab into the stomach” seconds earlier. Source: INPHOAnd just like that Murphy was summoned from the bench in Croke Park against the reigning All-Ireland champions. It capped an unlikely sporting journey that took in Kerry, Millwall, Boston and Las Vegas, among others, en route to becoming just the sixth player in over a half-century to man the goals for Dublin in the All-Ireland SFC.“I was lifted out of the stand, and in you go,” recalls Murphy. “Unfortunately it was a momentum changer for Armagh who went on to win that game. That 25 or 30 minutes flew by and there were no real shots of goal as Armagh just picked off their points and just managed to close out the game. Follow us: Jun 24th 2018, 7:01 AM No Comments last_img

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