If you’re Brian Murphy from Cork, then you’re probably a corner-back

If you’re Brian Murphy from Cork, then you’re probably a corner-back
Briain Murphy and Alan O'Donovan, Nemo Rangers, tackle Conor Russell, Douglas. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

The idea of nominative determinism sounds like a high-minded concept, but it’s fairly simple really — it posits that one is drawn towards certain things as a result of his or her name.

Good examples include Arsène Wenger managing Arsenal, German side VfL Wolfsburg having Wolfgang Wolf as their head coach, Peter Hartley and James Poole playing for Hartlepool United at the same time or, closer to home, Glen Kennefick lining out for Glen Rovers. Sadly, it’s not a cast-iron guarantee of success — despite the name, your correspondent could never describe himself as even being semi-proficient at hurling.

On the face of it, there shouldn’t be any particular compulsion attached to the name Brian Murphy, but, for whatever reason, in Cork it means that you’re likely to be an inter-county corner-back. 

We start with the Nemo Rangers’ Brian Murphy, who won four All-Ireland senior medals, three hurling and one football, as well as two All-Stars in each code — all at corner-back.

However, he wasn’t even the original of the species – in the late 1960s, Brian Murphy from Crosshaven played at corner-back on the football team. Interestingly though, his debut in 1965 saw him play in goal as Cork lost to Limerick. Had that game gone differently and he had stayed in the number 1 jersey, all future Brian Murphys might have been netminders too and nobody would have heard of Billy Morgan.

The next Brian Murphy was, in fact, a Bryan Murphy, and perhaps the different spelling is indicative of how his career went a different path. The Bishopstown native was a dual Cork minor centre-back in 1985 and was a non-playing member of the panel which reached the 1992 All-Ireland hurling final.

However, presumably due to not being converted to corner-back, he ended up transferring to Kildare, winning Leinster medals in 1998 and 2000 with the Lilywhites.

His departure from Cork didn’t mean a shortage of Brian Murphys on Leeside, though. The 1993 championship saw the debut of the Clonakilty version for the football team. He restored the corner-back balance (or imbalance) and went on to captain Larry Tompkins’ side in 1997 after Clon won the county championship the previous year.

Six years later, the name returned to the Cork hurling team, its holder a man from Bride Rovers who would almost seem to have the number four tattooed on to his back. He would go on to become a stalwart, winning All-Irelands in 2004 and 2005, with his tally of one All-Star an under-representation of his talents.

He has retired from inter-county — his final retirement in 2016 was his third, after previous departures in 2009 and 2014 were reversed — but the name could be coming to wider prominence again.

On Sunday, Nemo Rangers overcame Limerick’s Newcastle West in the Munster Club SFC, with one of the bright spots being the late introduction of Kevin Fulignati as a substitute. The former Cork minor had been out since February after a nasty finger injury but his return was very welcome for Nemo, and you can read his post-match interview with Mark Woods elsewhere in this edition.

Fulignati’s absence created a space in the Nemo defence and into that vacancy came a teenage corner-back – using the Irish translation of Briain, rather than Brian, Murphy, but still proof of how the name has a natural home. He impressed during Nemo’s run to record 21st county title and they are on course for further success outside of Cork.

Briain Murphy of Nemo Rangers. Picture: INPHO/Tom O’Hanlon
Briain Murphy of Nemo Rangers. Picture: INPHO/Tom O’Hanlon

Murphy is eligible for U20 again next year and it would be no surprise to see him in red and white, as well as black and green.

As to when that might be, the fear is that the U20 football will be scheduled for the spring (as the old U21 football was) rather than in the summer, as was the case this year. It’s a proposal against which the man who led Cork to All-Ireland victory, Keith Ricken, was vocal last week and it’s easy to see why.

Playing in the summer made for better games and more exposure and, given that players can’t play senior and U20 for their counties, why the need to get it out of the way?

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