Conor Murray is one of a very small number of professional Irish sportsmen who can be compared with the best of his peers.
The Munster, Irish and Lions scrum-half is an elite professional who has won the respect of his colleagues and international competitors. There is hardly a team in the world that would not be delighted to have an opportunity to select him.
This top-of-the-pile status is not easily achieved but it is even more difficult to sustain. A determined personality, robust self-assurance, and exceptional mental toughness are all required if natural athletic and intellectual talents are to blossom. Support from family, friends, and team-mates is essential too but one core truth about top-level sport is eternal: Blushing violets rarely prevail and almost never endure.
Murray has, since his Munster debut almost a decade ago, shown all of these qualities so his revelation that he was “hurt” over persistent but unfounded rumours that he had failed a drug test earlier this season cannot be ignored. The accusation was distasteful but the primary lesson must be that a person who has thrived a professional sport’s bear-pit was so influenced by malign social media fantasists.
If such a steely character can be so hurt, so bruised by online slanders what impact do keyboard bullies have on less determined characters — essentially most of us?
It is far beyond the time we legislated and acted forcefully to stamp out this behind-the-screens psychological sniping.