IF there’s one man on the current Offaly team who knows about perseverance, it’s midfielder/forward Brendan Murphy — Dr Brendan Murphy, currently doing his GP training in Portlaoise.
“I did a science degree first, but decided I wanted to do medicine; didn’t have the points for that so I went back and repeated my Leaving Cert in the middle of that degree.
“I got offers to go to England alright to do medicine over there with the points I had, but I wanted to do it in Ireland — a few other lads I know have done the same thing since then, Paul Ormonde (former Tipperary corner-back), he went back and did veterinary.”
Any regrets? “No, I’m enjoying it, it worked out well. Kind of fortunate too in the current economic climate, this job should be fairly safe anyway. Enjoy what you’re doing, that’s the most important thing.”
Which brings us to this Sunday, and hurling. He’s 10 years now on the senior team — with the performances against Galway, are Offaly emerging from the valley again? “I hope so, but hurling is so fickle. You look at Tipperary — nearly won the All-Ireland last year, everyone talking about them as potential champions in 2010, then one bad game against Cork and they’re being castigated by a lot of the same people.
“It’s too early to say just yet that we’re out of the valley; we needed extra time to beat Antrim, drew and lost and against Galway, and beat Limerick after another battle. But, we’re in our fifth championship game now in 2010, which is great, and everyone is enjoying it.”
Given that much of the Offaly success this year has been driven by youngsters who’ve cut their teeth in the Fitzgibbon Cup, there is real hope, surely that the corner has been turned?
“We do have fellas starting to come through now and you have to give credit to Joe (Dooley, manager) and his selectors for that. Offaly hasn’t really had a lot of success at underage and none of these lads have medals, but it just goes to show that if you get only two or three from every year, even if it’s not from winning teams, you can make something from them.
“Shane Dooley everyone knows about, and Joe Bergin, but Cathal Parlon had a great game the last day, Derek Morkan, James Rigney, David Kenny is as good a backman as is around — all those lads are starting to come through as well, playing well, and the Fitzgibbon Cup experience was a real factor there.
“Brian Carroll with UL, Cathal Parlon, Kevin Brady, Joe Brady, they all have medals with Waterford (IT), Michael Verney and a few others are also playing with various colleges. Realistically, the Fitzgibbon is now the next step to senior, a great competition, probably a level above U21. Look at the Kilkenny team of the last few years, almost every one of them has played Fitzgibbon Cup, and you’d see Brian Cody at a lot of those games.”
It’s especially important for the guys from the likes of Offaly to rub shoulders with the best and know they belong.
“Yeah, and that was something Joe Brady always said that to me — he was centre-back on the WIT teams that won back in the early 2000s, and he had JJ Delaney and those lads with him, and holding his own.
“You come back knowing you have the ability and the capability to hurl with these lads, and that is important.”
It’s unfortunate for Offaly, however, that they now have to meet the same Tipperary Brendan was talking about above.
“There was a lot of negative stuff written about them after that game, but Tipp are still a top side. If we things really go against us this Sunday and Tipp take off, it’s back to the drawing-board again.
“It’s going to be a tough championship game but it’s nice to be there anyway, back in the spotlight. Things haven’t been going too badly, hopefully that continues this Sunday.”
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