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Mourning sad passing of two great GAA men

Published 23/02/2013 | 04:00

TWO great men left these shores while we were abroad last week and, frankly, news of their passing – one after the other – hit like jackboots to the solar plexus.

We'd heard rumours at the England rugby game that Sean Og O Ceallachain might be unwell, yet – for a man whose broadcasting career put him in the 'Guinness Book of Records' – it was easy to mistake his aura of permanency as a licence to defy the march of time.

He'll surely be the youngest 89-year-old St Peter will have opened the gates to and, no doubt, he's already haranguing Heffo about the possibilities of that book he never wrote.

Word of Johnny Murphy's death came as a terrible jolt by comparison.

For, compared to Sean Og (above), Johnny was still a juvenile hurler, a roguishly young 71-year-old who could impart colour and riotous laughter to the greyest of rural settings.

A Tipperary man domiciled in Dungarvan, he had the intelligence never to mistake those of us perched in GAA press boxes as anything other than blue-collar messengers.

After a bad fall more than a year ago, it was such a thrill to see him back on the beat last spring and – seemingly – restored to his mischievous pomp.

I can honestly say that in an industry notorious for preciousness and lost perspective, Johnny Murphy achieved the remarkable distinction of being universally loved. A rare thing.

We'll miss him desperately down here, no question, but – rest assured – there'll be a lot more laughter in the sky.

Irish Independent

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