The Leeside Legends series: Unsung Brian Murphy was a dual star for Cork

The Leeside Legends series: Unsung Brian Murphy was a dual star for Cork

Cork’s Brian Murphy in action against Kilkenny in the 1983 All-Ireland SHC final at Croke Park. 

IN ALL sports there are unsung heroes and the former Nemo Rangers star of the 1970s Brian Murphy was most certainly in that category.

Murphy began playing hurling and football at Coláiste Chríost Rí where under the coaching of Dick Tobin he helped the school win the Dr Harty Cup in 1968.

Coláiste Chríost Rí travelled to Buttevant to play Limerick CBS who had previously won four Dr Harty Cups and had players like the legendary Pat Hartigan in their team but against all the odds the Turner’s Cross side lifted the title.

In the same year, the Cork school won the All-Ireland Colleges football final when they defeated Belcamp OMI from Dublin.

The greatest moment for Brian at colleges football occurred in 1970 when he captained his team to yet another All-Ireland crown.

The final was played at Croke Park when they produced a solid brand of football to defeat St Malachy’s of Belfast on a score of 1-13 to 4-5.

After joining the Garda, the first game that Murphy played for Cork at senior level was in the 1971/1972 National hurling league against Tipperary at the age of 21.

Having won Minor All-Ireland hurling medals in 1969 and 1970, All-Ireland Minor football 1970, All-Ireland U21 hurling 1971 and 1973, All Ireland U21 football in 1971 the word was clearly out that Brian was a senior star in the making.

Nemo’s Billy Morgan and Brian Murphy clear the ball against UCC at the Athletic Grounds in November 1972.
Nemo’s Billy Morgan and Brian Murphy clear the ball against UCC at the Athletic Grounds in November 1972.

In his first senior All-Ireland for Cork, in 1972, Murphy tasted defeat as the Rebels went down to Kilkenny.

Moving to the football scene in 1973 against Galway Brian played a major role as Cork lifted their first senior All-Ireland title in 28 years.

The biggest disappointment for Brian was the 1976 Munster Football final defeat by Kerry but the Kingdom proved to be master of football in the following years.

In 1977, Cork were well beaten by Kerry in the Munster final and hence followed the ‘Adidas Affair’ with the Cork team being suspended.

For Brian and Jimmy Barry-Murphy it was a real tough period as both of them were playing with the Cork hurlers at the time but on a positive note, the game has moved on following the ‘Adidas’ crest issue as sponsorship is an integral part of the GAA.

Club football with Nemo Rangers was also a very successful one for Murphy as he won seven Cork Senior football titles plus All-Ireland club titles in 1973,’78, ’82 and 1984.

The one All-Ireland title that Brian looks back on with pride is the 1978 final when Nemo defeated Scotstown of Monaghan a special day when Brian was captain of the team.

Brian recalled that the snow was falling so heavy that it was near impossible to see the players on the field.

Murphy was also part of the Cork senior hurling team that won the three in a row between 1976 to 1978 but a year later came his most disappointing game in hurling.

Cork were looking to emulate the Cork team of 1941 to 1944 but Galway denied them the magical four in a row with a 2-14 to 1-13 semi-final defeat.

Having spent the last 37 years living in Kilkenny, Brian has come to admire their skills and players.

When Cork lost the 1982 All-Ireland to Kilkenny, Murphy was more than adamant that Cork would win the ’83 final against the Cats. Once again the Kilkenny half-backs supported by their half-backs were too good for Cork on the day.

Brian Murphy, who operated mainly at right full-back was the type of player that goalkeepers and defences dream of as his style was quiet and professional.

Murphy did what every corner-back should do-effectively marked his man, covered well, read the game and left no gaps to goal.

The hallmark of Murphy was his ability to his consistency in defence and was renowned for his sportsmanship.

In the 1976 Senior All-Ireland hurling final against Wexford, Tony Doran was running Cork ragged but once Murphy was moved to full back he completely nullified his threat.

Brian Murphy was a credit to the sport as he always gave 100% in every game he played in but it was his ability to play the game in a sporting manner that made him a special person.


Brian Murphy was a member of the Coláiste Chríost Rí team that won the 1968 Dr Harty Cup when they defeated Limerick CBS at Buttevant.

Murphy is the holder of a total of 10 All-Ireland medals which included three senior hurling and one senior football.

Brian won seven Cork senior football championships with Nemo Rangers as well as four All-Ireland club titles.

Brian Murphy’s highlight of his football career was when Cork won the 1973 All-Ireland final after a lapse of 28 years for the county.

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