Signing off as Cork County Board secretary, Frank Murphy described his 46 years in the role as a “remarkable journey”.
With the majority of his farewell speech focusing on the people he worked alongside since taking up the role in December of 1972, and his fond memories of them, it was left to others in the room to paint a picture of the service given by the man from Blackrock who was appointed county board secretary at the age of 27.
As pointed out by the 16th chairperson to sit at the top table beside him, Tracey Kennedy, Cork won 63 All-Ireland titles during Murphy’s time in office, including nine senior hurling and four senior football, as well as 138 Munster championships and 12 national league successes.
St Michael’s delegate Frankie O’Connell, who grew up with Frank in Ballinlough in the early forties, commended the retiring secretary on having served as selector on at least 15 All-Ireland winning Cork teams (four senior, six U21 and five minor).
“I don’t think that will ever be equalled,” O’Connell remarked.
Of the 63 All-Ireland final wins he was on the line for, either as secretary or selector, the 1973 football win against Galway was recalled as “wonderful” given he was not even a full year in office.
“I had the privilege in 1976, ‘77 and ‘78 of being a selector on the Cork All-Ireland winning hurling teams. But most notably, had the privilege of experiencing the vitality, brilliance and determination to win of the master himself, Christy Ring. He was as amazing in the dressing room as he was on the field of play,” he told delegates at Saturday’s convention.
The two-time All-Ireland hurling final referee said undertaking the latest redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh was a “huge challenge and commitment”, adding “it is a stadium Cork can be proud of”.
The facilities of Cork GAA and its clubs at present was a point Frank took particular pride in.
“I want to pay tribute to our clubs and divisional committees and compliment them on the tremendous work they have put into the promotion of our games. And, also, for providing the facilities our county now enjoys the length and breadth of Cork. There are now 314 club grounds in this county, an additional 18 that would be college or community grounds.”
Frank’s goodbye address arrived after 35 minutes where bouquet after bouquet was sent in his direction from the floor of convention.
First off the mark was former GAA president Christy Cooney, who cited Frank’s role in the acquisition of Páirc Uí Rinn (then known as Flower Lodge) as one of his greatest achievements.
“Frank has served, not alone his county, but his club, his province and the association at national level with unbelievable distinction. He is his own man. Can be quite challenging at times. We’ve had our little tiffs over the years, but the respect I hold for him would be as high as I hold for anybody. His life has been Cumann Lúthchleas Gael,” Cooney noted.
The acquisition of Páirc Uí Rinn at a challenging time for the use of venues in Cork was a very significant opportunity for Coiste Chontae Corcaigh. It was a massive, massive purchase for Cork County Board.
Former Cork chairman Bob Ryan said Frank’s service is “unsurpassed” and commended him for delivering for every club unit in the county.
Imokilly president Willie Ring recalled the many Congresses where Frank, in his opinion, stole the show.
“To watch his contributions at Congress and ability, as chairman of the Rules Advisory committee, to move rafts of motions on behalf of Ard Comhairle on the floor of Congress was unparalleled.”
“It has been a difficult 45 years for this man because he has had to live his life in the public arena every day because of the office he was keeping for us. But Frank Murphy is a private man. And he had to live his private life in the public eye which is not easy.”
Former County Board treasurer Pearse Murphy said Frank was a man who was “always on the side of every Cork person”.
“He wanted Cork to win every match, all the time. When you go outside the county, everybody in every county board, the tribute they’d pay to Frank is, I wish he was a member of our county.”
This was a sentiment shared by former county board chairman Ger Lane.
“Over the last few years, when there was talk of Frank’s retirement and moving on, I was getting calls from other counties, asking what were we at. They couldn’t understand there were moves afoot and pushing Frank to move on. That showed they would have been glad to have had Frank in those counties. Well, we’re glad to have had Frank.”
Ballincollig’s Frank McCarthy credited the outgoing secretary for bringing Barry’s Tea on board as team sponsors in the early nineties, one of the first counties to secure such a deal.
Current chairperson Tracey Kennedy rounded off the tributes by declaring that what Frank Murphy has overseen and achieved during his tenure will never be equalled.
“He has done more for Cork than I or anyone else here can dream of doing. He has won many battles for Cork, both on the field and in the boardroom.
“I am acutely aware of how privileged I am to have served with him.”