'United in grief': Local community and sporting world pay tribute to Sligo footballer Red Óg Murphy

'United in grief': Local community and sporting world pay tribute to Sligo footballer Red Óg Murphy

Red Óg Murphy of Sligo pictured last year during the Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship quarter-final against Mayo at Markievicz Park. File picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

From the rural GAA community of Curry in South Sligo to the Australian suburbs of North Melbourne, Gaelic footballer and former AFL player Red Óg Murphy has left hearts devastated since the news broke of his tragic death in Dublin on Friday.

The sporting world and his home community of Curry and Moylough have spoken of their “deep shock” at the 21-year-old’s untimely death.

Red Óg was a student at DCU and was one of the Sligo's rising stars of both club and county football.

Paying tribute to him as news broke of his sudden death, neighbour and Sligo county councillor Martin Connolly told the Irish Examiner of the widespread shock in the area.

“The parish of Curry is speechless," Mr Connolly said.

"Red Óg was probably one of the finest footballers that came out of the area. He played for Curry GAA club. He and the Murphy family are highly respected."

Local parish priest Fr Leo Henry described the grief felt throughout the entire Curry community.

"The parish and community and the Murphy family — we are all one big family. We are united in life, and in grief, and in celebrating Red Óg’s wonderful short life,” he said.

We are a very close-knit community. We are one big family, every single one of us.” 

Sligo County GAA Club Chairman Sean Carroll said that while Murphy had a high profile through his sporting talents, he was “first and foremost a son and a brother.” 

“Our thoughts today are firstly with his family and then with his teammates, friends and clubmate. It will take time for all of us to come to terms with this loss,” the club said in a statement issued to media.

“For now our concern is to respect the privacy of the family and to support those who knew, played and worked with Red Óg as players and coaches and in particular the community of Curry GAA club who will want to remember and celebrate his contribution to their community and their lives.

"We are very grateful for the support of our colleagues in Croke Park and the wider GAA community over the past 24 hours,” they said.

Murphy’s home club of Curry GAA described Murphy’s death as “a terrible tragedy for the Murphy family, our club and our community.” 

 “We are deeply saddened by these events. Our sympathy and thoughts are with the Murphy/Lavin families and friends. Red Óg was a member of Curry GAA club and will be greatly missed by all who knew him,” said club chairman Barry Gallagher.

We have been in contact with his parents and they have requested that we all understand their need for privacy at this difficult time. Offers of support have been pouring in and are greatly appreciated.

"The clubhouse is open to all, to support them and to offer them advice and guidance,” his statement concluded.

All GAA activity in the South Sligo area has been postponed for now.

Elsewhere Easkey and Enniscrone/Kilglass GAA clubs held a minute’s silence before their Spring League game this evening.

Sligo Rovers Football Club also expressed their condolences to his family, friends and wider community, describing Murphy as “a talented footballer at both codes.” 

The Gaelic Players Association remembered him as “a young man gone far too early,” they added.

“To his family, loved ones, friends and teammates; our hearts are broken for you. Players across Ireland have lost one of their own,” they added.

Red Óg Murphy in action for Sligo last year. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Red Óg Murphy in action for Sligo last year. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

St Barnabas GAC Nottingham in England and Waterford IT GAA club, were among the many other clubs from further afield to pay tribute to the young Sligo star online.

Just a few short years ago, Red Og’s prowess on the field caught the eye of Australian Football League team North Melbourne ‘Kangaroos’ where he played 12 games in the Victorian Football League in 2019.

North Melbourne chief executive Ben Amarfio released a statement expressing his condolences to the Murphy family, according to the Herald Sun: “On behalf of everyone at the club, I would like to pass on my deepest sympathies to the Murphy family at this difficult time.

“Our thoughts are with those closest to Red Og, his family and friends in his home in Ireland, and all those who played and worked alongside him and became friends with him during his time at North Melbourne.” 

North Melbourne players and officials were due to wear black armbands in Red Og’s honour in their clash with Brisbane this weekend.

Red Óg was a former pupil at St Attracta’s Secondary School in Tubbercurry before moving on to study primary education at DCU to become a primary school teacher.

Spokespeople for DCU and Curry GAA club declined to comment on his tragic death.

- If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please click here for a list of support services.

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