Cork's Dual G.A.A. Inter County Star Player Who Retired In His Early 20's
A former Cork and Blackrock hurler and footballer I knew personally, was the late Simon Murphy of Ballinlough, Cork city and when I met Simon’s brother, Frank, I became much more acquainted with the magical story of Simon Murphy as a dual inter county hurler and footballer. I was mostly unaware that family and working out of Ireland as an engineer, greatly impeded Simon’s longevity as a star player quite early in a truly blossoming career. His record of magical achievements is most unlikely to be known outside his own family and specialist G.A.A. historians.
The records were achieved in such a short sports career lifespan, it is impossible to comprehend how Simon found time to sleep, let alone commit to such a demanding daily schedule. From his childhood days playing around Ballinlough under the careful scrutiny of the late Derry Cremin, to his schooling at Cork’s P.B.C. and later at U.C.C. Simon’s array of involvement in several sports codes was very enduring. It would be as a dual under age club and county player that Simon hit the radar and few, if any, starlets at that level exceeded his roll of honour.
The All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Gallery now opens its historic pages to inform Irish people; Irish exiles in foreign lands and people of Irish ancestry around the globe, of the unique sporting career of Cork’s Simon Murphy and how his club and county G.A.A. career was retired before his 24th birthday.
For our own records this is the very first time that any athlete has been incorporated into the All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Gallery after retiring at such a young age and Simon’s qualification is attributed to the record breaking medal collection he annexed before his 24th birthday.
Simon’s medal collection, now itemised in this Hall Of Fame tribute, will reveal a sporting genius, whose career and life was cut short at just 49 years old. Born in 1949 at Ballinlough, Cork, Simon from an early age exhibited a rare talent for several sports codes but with Blackrock’s master curator of young G.A.A. boys, Derry Cremin, living just a few hundred yards down the Ballinlough Road, once Simon revealed a grá for gaelic games, he would never sidestep Derry away from hurling and football.
Derry in his youth played soccer with the now defunct Ballinlough F.C. soccer club and in one encounter suffered a horrific leg injury that put him on crutches all through the rest of his adult life. Derry’s historic passion was nursing and rearing young upcoming hurling talent for the famed Blackrock G.A.A. club and Simon was one of his prized assets.
Two clubs commanded most of Simon’s sporting life and those were Blackrock in hurling and St. Michael’s in gaelic football, sister and brother clubs. The dominant code was hurling, but St. Michaels had several very committed administrators who nourished young up and coming footballers also and Simon was very much in that category.
At 18, in the year 1967, Simon was already identified in both codes as a future star player by shrewd observers, but such was his impact, Cork minor hurling and footballer selectors had already handed Simon their Cork jersies for both codes. His rise to further progression at under 21 level was already a done deal for both codes and it was inevitable that the county senior selectors were also monitoring the Ballinlough man. A browse at Simon’s medal collection at the conclusion of our Hall Of Fame tribute and profile will reveal an unprecedented roll of honour for one one so young who took very early retirement. Simon was also involved in athletics school competitions and had the ability to establish himself also in that field as a top class performer.
From his minor debut in 1966, Munster medals were achieved in both codes and Cork gave Kerry a severe roasting in the football final, beating the Kingdom 5-12 to 1-7. As 1967 dawned Simon was again eligible for the minor grade and Cork went on to claim dual All Ireland honours in a very special feat. Following on from minor, Simon and Cork took the under 21 hurling world by storm in 1968 as Cork paraded a multi talented all conquering All Ireland champion team and in 1969 Cork again won a consecutive All Ireland title with Simon a key player.
Only the very best of young hurlers manage to win three consecutive Under 21 All Ireland hurling medals and Simon Murphy claimed this unique honour in 1970. This is now included in Simon’s proud roll of honour. Also in 1970 a further accolade was winning a Munster U21 Football title.
The Blackrock hurler came on board the Cork senior hurling squad for the 1969/70 National League campaign and Cork overcame New York at the famed Polo Grounds in one of the most gruelling and controversial league finals ever played. Cork prevailed and Simon added another national medal to his collection.
1970 was also the year of the introduction of the first 80 minutes inter county championship matches and in a high scoring and remarkable game in the All Ireland final, former Passage player and my own club colleague, Eddie O’Brien, became the first ever hurler to score 3 goals in an All Ireland final. The Passage hurler also tacked on one point and Simon, though not on the team line out, came on as a substitute at half time and duly won a senior All Ireland medal.
The 1971 senior hurling championship proved to be barren for Cork and Simon did not make that panel but Cork welcomed him back for the 1971/72 N.H.L. campaign and Limerick were Cork’s victims as Simon won his second N.H.L. medal. At just 23 years of age Simon had accumulated a major collection of Club and County honours, he had qualified as an engineer and his work got in the way of all out commitment to hurling and football at the top level for club and county.
As a perfectionist Simon made a huge decision to cease playing gaelic games rather than give less than 100% to the games he grew with and got so much reward from all through his youth. His retirement was a major talking point around Cork but Simon would never again wield a camán in battle. He was approaching his 24th birthday and Blackrock, St. Michaels and Cork, had lost one of Cork’s most renowned dual under age performers.
Later in life, some twenty plus years after he bade goodbye to hurling and football, Simon had to fight his greatest ever battle without a hurley or football in sight. After enduring his own personal battle against cancer, in 1998 Simon Murphy was called ashore by the heavenly father and is buried at St. Michael’s Cemetery, Mahon, Blackrock, Cork.
Comprehensive Roll Of Honour Of Simon Murphy:
This itemised roll of honour was provided to the All Ireland Hall Of Fame by Simon’s brother Frank and is testament to the legacy and memory of one of Ireland’s greatest ever medal collections by any athlete and all attained prior to his 24th year.
The following personal achievements by former Cork hurlers and footballers are also noteworthy.
Seamus Looney, Simon Murphy, Jimmy Barrett and Teddy Oʼ Brien were members of both Under 21 teams in hurling and football.
Seamus Looney won All Ireland Senior Hurling and National League medals.
Simon Murphy won an All Ireland Senior Hurling medal, National Hurling League medals and a Junior All Ireland Football medal.
The following is a remarkable list of Simons achievements during his Sporting Life including, 6 All Ireland Hurling medals and 2 All - Ireland Football medals achieved before reaching the ripe old age of 23 years.
In 1963 Simon represented Presentation Brothers College Secondary School, Cork, in the “ Tailtean (Will-wood) Games. He took part in the High Jump event, jumping over 6ʼ to win the Bronze Medal.
Club & County Hurling and Football Achievements.
1963 City U - 16 Juvenile Hurling Champions - Bl9ckrock.
1963 League Winners U - 15 - Blackrock.
1964 League Winners U - 15 - Blackrock.
1964 City U - 16 Juvenile Hurling Champions - Blackrock.
1964 Minor Dick Barrett Shield Winners - Blackrock.
1964 Minor City Division Football Champions - St. Mich9els.
1964 Minor County Footb9ll Ch9mpions - St. Michaels.
1965 City U - 16 Juvenile Hurling Champions - Blackrock.
1965 Minor County Football Final v St. Dominicʼs 0 - 05 to 0 - 05. Replay 0 - 09 to 1 - 02. Champions — St. Michaels.
1966 Minor County Hurling Final, Blackrock v Cloyne. 5 - 06 to 3 - 08. Champions — Blackrock.
1966 City Minor Hurling Champions — Blackrock.
1966 Munster Minor Football Final. Cork v Kerry: 5-12 to 1 - 07.
1966 All - Ireland Minor Hurling Final. ( Runner- up med9l ).
1966 Cork v Wexford 6 - 07 each 9 dr9w. Replay 1 - 08 to 4 - 01. The reason there was a Runner - up medal was to commemorate 1916.
1967 City Minor Hurling Champions — Blackrock.
1967 Minor County Hurling Champions Blackrock v Cloughdubh 5 - 11 to 3 - 06. Champions — Blackrock.
1967 McKenna Cup Medal — U. C. C.
1967 Munster Minor Hurling Final Cork v Limerick 4 - 10 to 1 - 03.
1967 All Ireland Minor Hurling Fin9l Cork v Wexford 2 - 15 to 5 - 03.
1967 Munster Minor Football Final Cork v Kerry. 2 - 09 to 0 - 03.
1967 All Ireland Minor Football Final Cork v Laois (Leix) 5 - 14 to 2 - 03.
1968 Munster Under 21 Hurling Final Cork v Tipperary 4 - 10 to 1 - 13.
1969 Cork County Senior Football Final. U. C. C. v St. Nicholasʼ s. 0 - 09 to 0 - 08
1969 Fitzgibbon Cup medal —. U. C. C.
1969 Munster Under 21 Hurling Final Cork v Tipperary 3 - 11 to 1 - 05.
1969 All - Ireland Under 21 Hurling Final Cork v Wexford. 5 - 13 to 4 - 07.
1970 Sigerson Cup Medal — U. C. C.
1970 Munster Under 21 Hurling Final.
1970 All Ireland Under 21 Hurling Final.
1970 Munster Under 21 Football Final Cork v Clare 5 - 12 to 1 - 07.
1970 All Ireland Under 21 Football Final Cork v Fermanagh 2- 11 to 0 - 09.
1970 Munster Junior Football Final Cork v Kerry 2 - 10 to 2 - 09.
1970 All Ireland Senior Hurling Final Cork v Wexford 6 - 21 to 5 - 10. (Simon substituted Dónal Clifford at half - time due to Dóna’s hand injury)
1971 Cork County Senior Hurling Final. Blackrock v St. Finbarrʼs 2 - 19 to 5 - 04.
1971 Munster Club Senior Hurling Final. Blackrock v Moyne/Templetuohy 4 - 10 to 3 - 01.
1971 All Ireland Club Senior Hurling Final. Blackrock v Rathnure 5 - 13 to 6 - 09.
1971 Munster Club Senior Football Final. U. C. C. v Clonmel Commercials 2 - 09 to 1 - 08.
1972 National League Hurling Final. Cork v Limerick 3 - 14 to 2 - 14.
This is an “Exclusive” ONLINE All Ireland Hall Of Fame INDUCTION.
Our Tribute/Profile is an Irish Heritage Sports article to preserve and promote Golden Memories of outstanding Irish athletes such as Simon Murphy of Blackrock and Cork fame.
Watch this space for our upcoming Simon Murphy photo gallery.
Our target readership is Irish people all over Ireland; Irish exiles in foreign lands and people of Irish ancestry all around the globe.
This article will also be incorporated in our upcoming www.Blackrock (Cork) Online Heritage Website, going live in mid June 2018.
Derry JF Doody
@ All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Gallery