Sunday 24 September 2017

'I owe everything to Frank Murphy' - Eamonn Coghlan leads tributes to legendary Irish Olympian who passed away at 69

Frank Murphy won the National Athletics Hall of Fame award in 2014 and (inset) Jim McNamara (213) leads the field, including, Tom O'Riordan (210) and Frank Murphy (third from right) in the Amateur Athletic Union Championships
Frank Murphy won the National Athletics Hall of Fame award in 2014 and (inset) Jim McNamara (213) leads the field, including, Tom O'Riordan (210) and Frank Murphy (third from right) in the Amateur Athletic Union Championships

Ger Keville and Will Slattery

Legendary Irish athlete Frank Murphy has passed away at the age of 69.

The two-time Olympian had been fighting Parkinson’s disease for a number of years and passed away today in a Dublin nursing home.

Murphy was a stalwart of Irish athletics and won a European silver medal in the 1969 European Athletics Championships 1500m in Athens with a time of 3.39.51, a then Irish record.

He added another silver to his collection a year later in the 1500m at the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Vienna and represented Ireland at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico and the Munich games four years later.

Speaking to Independent.ie, former World Champion Eamonn Coghlan paid tribute to Murphy for the formative role that he played in his career.

"I owe everything to Frank Murphy," Coghlan said.

"From the time I was 12 years old starting out, he was my hero. If it wasn't for Frank, I wouldn't have had the career that I did. He recommended me to the coach at Villanova and he persuaded the coach to stick with me when things weren't going well.

"He didn't get the recognition he deserved but he was one of the all-time greats."

Known for his refined running style, Murphy also enjoyed unprecedented success on home shores.

A member of the Clonliffe Harriers club in Drumcondra, he was runner up to the great Kenyan athlete Kip Keino in his first-ever Morton Mile appearance before winning back-to-back National Mile titles in 1966 and 1967.

His personal best for a mile came in 1968 with a time of 3.58.6 - Ireland’s fourth fastest ever at the time. Further cementing his legendary status, Murphy was one of only five Irish athletes to have ever run under 1.48 (800m), 3.40 (1500m) and 14.00 (5,000m).

He was also an astute collegiate athlete and attended the famed Villanova University in America on a scholarship, winning the prestigious NCAA Indoor Title over 880 yards in 1969.

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