Long-serving Cork GAA medic Dr Con Murphy noted the symbolism of the gala tribute night in his honour in Cork’s City Hall last Saturday night, hoping it signals an era of harmony and cooperation between all parties with Cork GAA’s interests at heart.
“What I like about tonight is it’s a happy event,” Dr Murphy said. “It’s the coming together of the county board and the former players as one group for the betterment of Cork hurling and football and ladies hurling and football. I think it’s a happy occasion for everyone.”
The event was organised by Cork supporters’ group, Cairde Chorcaí, a fundraising body run by former Cork players and coaches.
It was attended by many greats of Cork GAA past and present, as well as stars from other counties, such as Kerry’s Mikey Sheehy and Mick O’Dwyer, Tipperary’s Nicky English and Galway’s Padraic Joyce.
Roy Keane, Davy Russell, Donal Lenihan, and Rob Heffernan were among the stars from other sports present.
Dr Murphy, who has served as a medic to Cork and UCC teams since the 70s, recalled the standout moments from his time involved.
“Every All-Ireland is special — 1999 in hurling with a young team is one that comes to mind. 2010 in football is a very special one to me. Because we had suffered very much in previous finals against Kerry and semi-finals. To get over the line eventually with a great bunch of fellas was special.”
There was a poignant note as he remembered the players and friends who have passed away during his time involved.
“We lost John Kerins, Mick McCarthy, John Horgan. It’s very sad when you see players pass away. Paidi (Ó Sé) was a great friend of mine. He coached the college for two years and I didn’t know anyone who was more entertaining for an hour than Paidí Ó Sé."
He reflected on the great changes there have been in preparing teams over the last 40 years, though fears the inter-county game has become too ‘serious’ at the expense of club players.
“When I started with Cork in ‘76, we had no other medic, we had no first aid, we had no physio. If someone got injured it was up to me to attend to him. But was on my eighth trip to Croke Park with a Cork hurling team before I saw the field of play.
“We do so much training now. Every team is doing it. I think it’s got far too serious. My solution would be to leave six months for the club and six months for the county. Because clubs are getting hammered.”
It was a night of fulfilled dreams too as Dr Con got to live out one childhood fantasy, thanks to one of the entertainment acts.
“I was about 14 when I realised I’d never play for Cork. My dream of marching behind the Artane Boys band disappeared. I can’t believe at my age I got to march behind them tonight.”
And he told event host Matt Cooper that he expects to see Cork seniors back in the winners’ enclosure soon.
“I think in the next few years we’ll certainly win the hurling, it might take a bit longer in the football, but we won’t go away.”
Funds raised at the event were shared between Cairde Chorcaí and Cork Simon.
Cairde Chorcaí's priority, board member and former Cork player Conor McCarthy said, is to fund "coaching, training facilities and high performance needs for Cork teams over and above what the Cork County Board can provide.