Football

OPINION: Sean Murphy and the Carlow Footballers capture the hearts of a nation against the best in the business

Sean Murphy goes past Ciaran Kilkenny - Photo: Anne Lawlor

Carlow impressed a lot of people¬†at O’Moore Park on Saturday night and not just within the county itself.

Okay so they lost 0-19 to 0-7, but there was so much admire in the performance over the 70 odd minutes.

Excitement was rife during the week and the actual buzz on the night was incredible as Turlough O’Brien’s men squared up to the aristocrats of Gaelic Football.

And Carlow actually took the lead.

Against the All Ireland Champions!

Big Brendan Murphy knocked over the opening score and although it seems petty, it got a lot of Carlow people buzzing throughout the grounds.

The class of the Dubs was seen in a limited amount during the first half, however Jack McAffrey knocking over two great scores at Carlow stifled many an attack.

Then Paul Broderick nails a free which seemed like it was kicked the whole way from Abbeyleix.

Man of the Match Sean Murphy – who I will acknowledge in further detail later in the piece- then swings over a beauty with the outside of the boot after slicing through the heart of the Dublin defence.

Captain Darragh Foley then curls one over from out beside Turlough, Tommy, Benji & Poacher and all of a sudden its 0-8 to 0-5 at half time.

Against the All Ireland Champions!

47 minutes gone and it’s still just 0-10 to 0-6 but Brendan Murphy gets dismissed on a second yellow card that he can’t have any complaints about, however the first card was very dubious considering Diarmuid Connolly put a hand on a match official earlier in the game.

From there Carlow suffer with the numerical disadvantage and throughout the game they were on the receiving end of some bad calls from the referee.

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In fact, our colleagues at RTE Radio had the benfit of TV cameras back at base and said that Dublin were gifted four frees straight in front of the goal.

Marry this with the stone wall penalty that Carlow were denied late in the second half and all of a sudden that makes it a possible five point game.

Against the All Ireland Champions!

Another big plus is that Carlow didn’t concede a goal, and special praise for the defence who didn’t allow Diarmuid Connolly to have any influence in the game whatsoever and he didn’t register one score from play.

I mentioned Sean Murphy above.

What can I say. He was absolutely magnificent on the night and the best player on view by a mile.

When have we ever seen a player get man of the match on a team that has lost by twelve points? Never is the answer. And who did Sean Murphy achieve this against?

Against the All Ireland Champions!

I know Sean Murphy for a long time.

I went to school with him in Presentation De La Salle Bagenalstown and he is one of the soundest men you will ever meet.

The man didn’t do 5k or 10k runs out by Clontarf, he conditioned himself on the farm near Fenagh running after cattle and sheep and built up muscle in all the hard labour that farming demands.

He isn’t really the type of lad that will sit down and watch sport every day, he probably finds it hard to find the time and he won’t mind me saying that he may not even have known some of the Dublin Footballers until he went out to play them.

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Darragh Foley told me recently that himself and John Murphy were milling some iron out of it in the gym and under a little pressure with the weight, and Sean comes in without a warm up done and does multiple repetitions at ease!

A more modest man you would not meet and the last thing the guy want’s is attention, hence why he elected not to speak after picking up the man of the match award.

A certain minority in the national media suggested that this was disingenuous, but let me tell you this.

No player is under any obligation to speak to the media and if a player chooses not to because he is too disappointed then that is to be admired not slated.

The key thing here is as follows and it came after a chat with KCLR Hurling analyst James Hickey, another man I have great time for.

He told me that his young fella was out kicking ball at the crack of dawn this morning trying to imitate Sean Murphy.

This sums it all up for me!

I have great respect for Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who have mesmerized the youth of today, but here we have youngsters looking up to Sports stars who are living in the same county as them. The same way as youngsters are looking up to Marty Kavanagh in Hurling and that is the single most important thing for Carlow GAA going forward.

There was a team of heroes and selectors in O’Moore Park last night who did the whole of Carlow proud on their biggest platform for years and maybe even all time.

Against the All Ireland Champions!

Carlow well and truly is rising!

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