Thursday 23 January 2020

Obituary: Jim Murphy

Sean Ryan remembers the Dundalk Town FC legend and former managing director of Carroll's tobacco company

Jim Murphy with his Best Club Publication Award for 'C'mon The Town' at the FAI Communications Awards held in Athlone in July 2014. Photo: David Maher/SPORTSFILE
Jim Murphy with his Best Club Publication Award for 'C'mon The Town' at the FAI Communications Awards held in Athlone in July 2014. Photo: David Maher/SPORTSFILE

Jim Murphy, who has died aged 83, made his mark in both the business and sporting worlds in his native Dundalk.

His success was based on a terrific work ethic. According to his daughter Eimear: "If Jim Murphy wanted to get something done, it got done."

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This was evident from his schooldays in Dundalk CBS. There was no money to send him to secondary school, so Jim earned a scholarship to complete his Leaving Certificate. Needless to say, university was out, so he started work in PJ Carroll's straight after school, a common occurrence in Ireland in the early 1950s.

However, he wasn't content to leave his studies behind, and he added initiative to his work ethic to qualify as an accountant, studying part-time.

Jim spent all his working life in Carroll's, the last 10 years as managing director of the cigarette manufacturers.

With his late wife Aine, Jim was on the organising committee of Dundalk's Maytime Festival of amateur drama for some years but, with eight children, time for hobbies was eventually confined to visits to Oriel Park to support Dundalk FC and the occasional game of golf at Dundalk Golf Club.

As a young boy he had been brought to Oriel Park in the 1940s and, years later, he still regarded club legend Joey Donnelly as the best player he ever saw, even though Joey's career was winding down at the time.

Jim had the frame of a Gaelic footballer rather than a soccer player, so it is no surprise that the only medal he won was with the town's Young Irelands.

However, he never lost his love for Dundalk FC and when the club found itself in financial difficulties around the time Jim retired from Carroll's, he joined the board and became financial controller for a number of years, helping to keep the banks from the door.

It was around that time that he also began writing for the match-day programme, and through that he developed a great interest in the history of Dundalk FC.

This culminated in two books, the first a history of the first 100 years of Dundalk FC in 2003, and the second, C'mon The Town, a miscellany of stories, profiles, memorabilia, photos and records, which won the Publication of the Year award from the FAI in 2014.

Combined, his books featured a total of 860 pages, and set a standard which other clubs find hard to replicate, but they were typical of the thoroughness and hard work which Jim applied to every task he undertook.

Keen to honour the memory of every player who wore the Lilywhite jersey, he also set up a website,, and with the help of his sons, Ruairi, Kieran and Seamus, he continually added to its content, with each player's photo and statistics available to the viewer.

One of the things that pleased him was the number of requests he received from relations of the players for a copy of the photo, something which the family never had, and Jim was generous in his response to these requests.

He also developed the 'One Team, One Dream' exhibition on Dundalk FC at the County Museum.

After his many years working for Carroll's, the latter of which involved a daily commute to the company's headquarters in Dublin, his post-retirement years working voluntarily for Dundalk FC kept the spark alive.

The recent years of success under Stephen Kenny and Vinny Perth also encouraged him to join the fans on their adventures in Europe.

In the 1960s and 70s, with a big job in PJ Carroll's and the responsibility of raising a big family with his wife, travelling to matches against clubs like Liverpool, Celtic, PSV Eindhoven and Spurs was not a realistic option.

But when the draw was made for the 2016 Champions League second round qualifier, Murphy decided that he would attend his first European away game.

He was due to travel to Iceland with his son Ruairi until unforeseen circumstances forced Ruairi to pull out.

The octogenarian considered his options and made a quick decision.

"To hell with it, I'm going anyway," he said.

In Reykjavik, Murphy held court on the eve of the match by announcing that progression past Iceland's FH and the doors it opened would represent the greatest night in the club's existence.

His wish was granted as the subsequent defeat of BATE Borisov led the way to the Europa League group stage.

His last week was a busy one, and he was fit and active to the end. He was in bed when he suffered a fatal heart attack. It was what he wanted, said Eimear, "to die peacefully in his own bed".

Predeceased by his wife, who died in 2015, Jim is survived by daughters Deirdre, Eimear, Niamh, Mairin and Bronagh, and his three sons.

When Ruairi called to Oriel Park to collect his season ticket for 2020, he was presented with a second one - the club had already made out his father's, so they gave him his too.

Jim Murphy died on December 14.

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