Monday 22 January 2018

Down football mourns one of its greats

Down legend: Leo Murphy. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Down legend: Leo Murphy. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

When, in 2012, this newspaper undertook the task of choosing the best team in every county over the previous 50 years, we consulted widely in order to make the decisions as informed as possible.

When it came to Down football, we met with a fair degree of unanimity about certain players, including a man whose death is now being mourned in his native county and beyond.

Leo Murphy, who has died at the age of 78, was one of the best full-backs of his generation and played a huge part in the emergence of the great Down team in the late 1950s, which went on to win the All-Ireland double in 1960-'61.

They were the first county to bring the Sam Maguire Cup across the border and are still regarded as one of the best teams in championship history. They are also credited with having brought a new approach to playing the game and also to preparation.

Murphy (left) made his senior inter-county debut at the age of 18 and remained a permanent fixture for over a decade, during which Down won two All-Ireland, six Ulster and two National League title titles. He also played on two winning Railway Cup teams. Down beat Kerry in the 1960 final and Offaly a year later in a final watched by a record crowd of 90,556.

Requiem Mass will be celebrated for Murphy in Star of the Sea Church, Rostrevor today (11.0), followed by burial in Kilbroney Cemetery.

Irish Independent

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