Murphy: a truly great GAA statesman

THE death has occurred of former GAA president Con Murphy at the age of 84.

He passed away yesterday morning at St Finbarr’s Hospital, Cork after a brief illness.

Mr Murphy was born in Toureen, near Innishannon on October 28, 1922, the eldest of seven children. From an early age he took a great interest in Gaelic games, understandably, as his uncle Sean McCarthy was GAA president from 1932 to 1935.

He once admitted that he was fortunate to be one of a super crop of young hurlers attending the North Mon between 1936 and 1942. During his time at the famed hurling nursery, he won three Harty Cup medals in 1940, 1941 and 1942, captaining the team in 1941 and 1942.

While still at the Mon he was picked on the Cork senior hurling team in 1942 and won the first of four All-Ireland medals. The other victories came in 1943, 1944, 1946 and he was on the losing team to Kilkenny in the 1947 final. He won a National Hurling League medal in 1948, as well as four Railway Cup medals with Munster.

A lifelong member of Valley Rovers, Murphy’s playing career lasted from 1936 to 1956 and he was full back on the Carrigdhoun divisional team which failed to Glen Rovers in the 1945 county final.

While still a player, he became a highly respected referee, taking charge of the 1948 and 1950 All-Ireland senior hurling finals, the 1949 All-Ireland junior final and National League finals of 1947 and 1952.

While still a teenager Murphy attended the Carrigdhoun convention as a Valley Rovers representative and in 1948 was elected chairman of that body at 26 years of age. He represented Carrigdhoun at county board level and became a member of the executive in 1947, a position he held up to 1976. He served as vice-chairman from 1951 to 1953, and in 1956 he took over as secretary following the sudden death of Sean Óg Murphy.

It was no surprise to anyone when he attained the highest office in the GAA when elected as its president in 1976. During his three-year term he oversaw the redevelopment of the old Athletic Grounds into Páirc Uí Chaoimh, having acted as secretary of the Grounds Committee. He opened the new grounds and presented the Liam McCarthy trophy to three of his fellow county-men as Cork completed a three-in-a-row from 1976 to 1978.

On completion of his presidency, he was elected chairman of the Cork County Board, a position he held for three years before being elected as one of the county’s delegates to the Munster Council, a position he held until his death.

He served as a member of the RTÉ Authority from 1979 to 1985 and was made a Freeman of Cork City in 1995. During his presidency he played an active role, often at great personal risk, in trying to get British forces out of the Crossmaglen club grounds, something that was never forgotten by the people of south Armagh.

Last night the Cork County Board described Con Murphy as “a man of the highest integrity and commitment; he was an inspiration to countless members of the association. His work in the development of our games and infrastructure was colossal.”

Sports Minister John O’Donoghue added: “He was truly a great statesman of the GAA. He was passionate about Gaelic games; he had a great love of the Irish language and all things Irish.

“He would correspond and telephone me on a regular basis to discuss funding for Gaelic games. He made strong and considered representations to further the provision of grounds for colleges.”

Mr Murphy is survived by his wife Theresa and four children, Noel, Aine, Brendan and Maura.


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