VINNIE MURPHY burst on to the Dublin senior football team as a minor in 1988 and went on to enjoy a stellar inter-county career. The full-forward won an All Star award as Dublin made the 1992 All-Ireland final which they lost to Donegal.
He did, however, get his hands on a Celtic Cross in 1995 and also captured two league titles (1991 and 1993) and five Leinster SFC winners medals (1989 and 1992-95). He spent a number of years in Kerry playing for the Kerins O'Rahilly's club and he represented the Kingdom's senior hurling team. In latter years, he has overseen the rise of Edenmore side St Monica's, who went from AFL 6 to AFL 3 in only four seasons.
GREATEST MOMENT IN A DUBLIN JERSEY?
The one that stands out most for me is scoring the goal in the 1989 Leinster final against Meath. Dublin had been under the cosh from Meath for two or three years and to beat them ... I got the goal in the second half that swung the game for us and it was my first Leinster medal as well.
WORST MOMENT FOR DUBLIN?
Not making the team in 1995 and having such a limited run. And then getting dropped from the panel, by Mickey Whelan, in 1996.
OUTSTANDING CLUB MEMORY?
Winning the junior football championship in 1988 and winning the intermediate in 1994 (with Trinity Gaels). I also have junior hurling and intermediate hurling championships.
I played my best football from 1996 to '99 but I was down in Kerry at the time. I always said when I went to Kerry I started to enjoy the game again and it always nagged away at me that I had finished county too soon. I suppose getting the two years in 2000 and 2001 (with the Dubs under Tommy Carr) helped finish it off for me.
BIGGEST CAREER INFLUENCE?
My father. He won a minor All-Ireland in 1955 and a junior All-Ireland with Dublin in 1960. He would have been a big influence. After that then there was Gerry McCaul, who gave me my debut, and Paddy Cullen as well. Then I suppose Tommy Carr who took a bit of a risk taking me back in 2000.
Most of them were difficult in different ways. Early on in my career I would have said Mick Lyons (Meath) and Martin Shovlin from Donegal. Playing in training, Paddy Moran was a great man to have marking you because if you could win the ball off him you'd win it off anybody!
BEST PLAYER YOU PLAYED WITH?
Paul Curran. He was class.
IF THERE WAS A TRANSFER MARKET IN YOUR ERA, WHO WOULD YOU HAVE SIGNED?
I always thought Bernard Flynn (Meath) would have made a huge difference for us. Then later on Mickey Linden (Down).
John Egan of Kerry was someone I admired. If there was any player I really liked watching it was him.
HARDEST THING ABOUT RETIREMENT?
I remember the 2002 Leinster final when Dublin won it, it brought a bit of a tear to my eye. My thoughts would have been with the likes of Ciarán Whelan, who was there from 1996, and for him to win his first Leinster medal. You would have loved to have been out there with him. Don't get me wrong, I didn't miss the dark, cold nights and the hard running. But even now it gets me when the sun starts shining and you want to be out there.
IS FOOTBALL BETTER NOW OR WHEN YOU WERE PLAYING?
Different games. Definitely there is a lot more tactics after coming into it and players are generally fitter and better coached. I think the class players of today, like the Brogans, would walk on to any Dublin team of the past. But I also think the top players from any era would have been top players in any other era.
WHAT IS YOUR PET HATE IN THE GAME?
When someone catches the ball and comes down, gets surrounded and is then blown for over-carrying. I'm not sure the mark is the way to go but the benefit of the doubt should go to the player who climbs highest and wins the ball.
HOW DO YOU THINK DUBLIN FOOTBALLERS WILL PERFORM IN THE COMING YEAR?
I would be quietly confident. Jim (Gavin) has a great track record with the U21s. People credit him with two All-Irelands but he was hugely influential when Dublin won the first U21 title in 2003. Jim's nickname when we were training was 'Champo Jim'. He'd give you a countdown to the championship. He was very focused and always knew exactly what his role was and how to maximise his strengths. If he puts that into the players they could go far.
ADVICE TO GIVE TO YOUNG PLAYERS?
It was something my father always said to me and that was to always kick with both feet. I only started doing that when I was 16 and I spent an awful lot of time practising it. Always work on the basic skills, but do it on both sides. When I was in Kerry the natural two-footed players were very common where in Dublin lads were excellent at catching the ball and soloing with either the left foot or the right. But in Kerry they tried to develop a more rounded player.