Waterford’s captain and lieutenant

HERE are your options for a Stephen Molumphy interview.

Option a) is a by-the-numbers respect-for-Tipperary, 50-50 game, we-know-what-we-have-to-do number.

Option b) is about incorporating an inter-county hurling career with Waterford and a day job defusing Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs.

Yep, we thought you’d be more interested in that one.

When Molumphy was snapped leaving the Waterford-Kilkenny NHL game at half-time – in playing gear, jumping into a car – there was a very good reason.

“There was a course on,” he says, “A counter-IED course. The American and British soldiers who have been in Iraq and Afghanistan come to Poland and take in soldiers from other armies.

“The Irish army is very good for that — they send us on courses to teach us new techniques and then we pass it out. The best thing about the Irish army is they latch on to where new information is being given out and then pass it out.

That’s why I was over there doing that course for a week.

“I flew over straight away and we had to hand over the phones because you’re not allowed mobile phones in the base. That night I got back to my room and I got my phone back and next thing Niamh (fiancee) told me — I thought I had got away with it nice and quiet.

“But it was on the radio and there were pictures — and there were stories about a bust-up with Davy.”

Molumphy’s spent nine months with the Bundeswehr (German Army), he’s been to Poland, and he put down five months in Chad, which he describes as a humbling experience.

“In Chad you’re on your own because they out-number you completely. When you go out on patrol you’re self-sufficient. You have to have all your own gear, all your own communications — if anything happens you have to circle the wagons because you’re on your own.

“You trust everyone over there, but you trust no one. The value of life over there is nothing and you see a lot, it’s amazing.

“Family feuds and so on are there things, but if someone’s life is in danger you can intervene. The women out there do every single job and the men just sit there. It’s a different world completely.”

Adjusting to life back home can be a matter of little details: “The other thing is when you come back. You’re on powdered milk for five months so just to come back and have a glass of real milk is exceptional.”

The inter-county career feeds the army career, says Molumphy — “If you’re not playing with your county, and you played minor or Under-21, the army, the CEO, your boss, will ask you why you aren’t playing. They’ll ask you is someone stopping you playing.

“They want you playing because it’s good PR for the army if you’re doing well and they want to see that.”

Molumphy is an instructor in the Cadet Camp in the Curragh Camp. A leadership role off the field helps when he steps between the white lines. So does the constant army training.

“At the moment I’m a lieutenant and overseas I have 30 guys — it’s funny how it corresponds to hurling! The leadership would help. It’s a different sort of fitness (in the army). You might do 10, 20k with backpacks. It’s low speed, but you keep going and going. Then you get to your objective and you move in.

“Hurling’s different — it’s sprint-stop, sprint-stop. At the moment I take the cadets for sports fitness so I can tailor it a bit.”

Given the weekend that’s in it we might as well ask — what about Tipperary?

“They’re flying at the moment – I’m based in the Curragh and all the Tipp soldiers are talking about them doing the double already, two All-Irelands. We’ll respect Tipp, we won’t fear them at all. We’ll work to the very last minute, we’ll keep powering on no matter how many players we have on the pitch. We believe we can win it.”

Spoken like a captain. And spoken like a lieutenant.

Picture: FIRST LIEUTENANT: Waterford captain Stephen Molumphy says the army is a different sort of fitness. “You might do 10, 20k with backpacks. It’s low speed, but you keep going and going.”

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