The Leeside Legends series: Hoops great Seanie Murphy still passing on wisdom

The Leeside Legends series: Hoops great Seanie Murphy still passing on wisdom

Blue Demons 1979/80 senior team that captured an array of trophries, back row L to R: Peter Coughlan, Timmy McCarthy, Tom Wilkinson, Gerry Wheeler, Pat Collins, Michael O’Sulllivan. Front row L to R: Sean Murphy, Denis Caffrey, Bill Ramsell, Andrew Houlihan, Dan Byrne, William (Mono) McCarthy, Joe Coughlan.

SEANIE Murphy was one of the best Cork basketball players ever. The Blue Demons and Ireland star of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s is still working with his club, coaching at nursery level.

Murphy was born in Blarney Street in 1946 and learned his basketball skills at his local Christian Brothers School.

He began his basketball career with the local Iona Boys, then the most powerful juvenile basketball club.

In 1968, Murphy moved to Blue Demons and helped them win numerous Cork senior leagues and championships.

A national league title followed in 1979, and in 1981 Demons swept the boards, locally and nationally, in all competitions.

In 1984, Murphy retired from playing, but he was far from finished with basketball.

The Irish Basketball Association was quick to recognise his ability as a coach, and he was appointed to the Irish senior men’s team for the pre-Olympic tournament, in France, in 1984.

Murphy recalled: “I will never forget that tournament, as we were drawn against a Russian team who had three guys who were 7ft 2in; one was 7ft 1in and the fifth starter was close to 6ft 10in and, in truth, we struggled to get the ball over the halfway line.”

Murphy is the only Irishman ever to have captained, coached, and managed an Irish senior men’s team.

During his long career, Murphy played with, and against, the best players that this country has produced over the past 60 years and he says the influx of American players in the1980s was good for the game here.

Murphy says that the former Demons star Jasper McElroy was the best American basketballer ever to play in this country.

“Jasper was another class and you can talk about many great Americans, but McElroy did it on a weekly basis and when you look at the present standard of Americans, you tend to think the 1980s was a far better era,” Murphy said.

Every Sunday morning, at the Mardyke Arena, Murphy holds a nursery for future Blue Demons stars.

Over many years, many players have been produced from his excellent tutoring.

Children as young as six and seven learn the basic basketball skills under Murphy’s watchful eye. Over the decades, he has produced a host of stars for the Blue Demons senior teams, with Shane Coughlan heading an impressive list.

Coaching future stars is something that gives Murphy huge pleasure, but there are so many demands on young people, and so many distractions, that the number of players making it to the top level from underage to senior has dipped.

“The biggest problem, for all clubs in this country, is the way we live today, as you coach the youngsters up to the age of 18 and then the drop-out syndrome sets in and there is little or nothing we can do to prevent this trend,” Murphy said.

He says the majority of the players in the Super League are possibly better technically and fitter, but he also feels there is a lack of quality player at the highest level.

Murphy also coaches in schools and has brought his knowledge to teams at Presentation Brothers College, which is better known for producing rugby stars.

In his young days, Murphy was also a very talented soccer player. He was with Southend, before he moved to Blackrock and helped them win the Munster Senior Shield.

He then moved to St Mary’s, helping them win AOH Cup, Munster Junior Cup, and Premier League medals.

St Mary’s AUL League and Shield winners of 1966. Back: Paddy O’Connell, Denis Dalton, Noel Stokes, Jeremiah Geaney, Noel Hawkins. Seated: Seanie Murphy, Kevin Murphy, John Coughlan, Christy Duke, Thomas Hawkins.
St Mary’s AUL League and Shield winners of 1966. Back: Paddy O’Connell, Denis Dalton, Noel Stokes, Jeremiah Geaney, Noel Hawkins. Seated: Seanie Murphy, Kevin Murphy, John Coughlan, Christy Duke, Thomas Hawkins.

The one disappointment for Murphy came in 1972, when St Mary’s lost 3-1 to Talbot United in the FAI Junior Cup final.

Murphy reflected on that disappointing day.

“We had Dinny Allen playing with us, at the time, and he missed the final, due to commitments with Nemo Rangers, and that was a huge blow to us in that game,” Murphy said.

Seanie Murphy achieved more than most in the sport of basketball and it’s no great surprise that, at the age of 73, the great man still finds time, week in and week out, to coach youngsters at the Blue Demons nursery.

That’s just his way!

FACTFILE:

Seanie Murphy holds the distinction of being the only man ever in the history of the sport to captain, coach, and manage the Irish senior men’s team.

Murphy began playing basketball with Iona Boys club in Blarney Street before moving to Blue Demons in 1968.

Seanie played with St Mary’s in a FAI Junior Cup Final in 1972 where the Cork club lost to Talbot United 3-1.

Murphy still holds weekly nursery sessions for his club Blue Demons

More in this section

Sponsored Content

jerseywarslogosml
votetextheader

jerseysformpu
echolive

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more