Cork boxing: Albie Murphy was one of the greatest coaches of all time

Leeside legend trained a succession of winners in Sunnyside club
Cork boxing: Albie Murphy was one of the greatest coaches of all time

Then President of the IABA, Pat Ryan, at Bishop Lucey Park with the family of the late Albie Murphy: Donna Deane, Breda Skillington, Rita Murphy, Janet Murphy and Denis Murphy. Picture: Doug Minihane

THE making of a documentary on the history of Cork boxing has focussed the minds of many in recent weeks.

Much discussion amongst Leeside's boxing enthusiasts has focussed on who will feature in this production.

However, a name that is unanimous to all is that of Albie Murphy, the late and illustrious Sunnyside BC coach.

On Saturday, May 27, 2017, before a large attendance at Bishop Lucey Park, his lifelong friend Maurice Walsh of the St Colman's BC, unveiled a plaque to perpetuate the memory of a boxing legend.

Amongst those in attendance, that day was the then President of the IABA Pat Ryan who said, "Albie Murphy was one of the most amazing coaches and trainers I have come to know in my thirty-seven years involved in coaching. He was also a wonderful person."

Albie took over as coach with the Sunnyside club in 1976 and trained many County, Munster and All-Ireland champions.

He brought the Sunnyside club to Dagenham in 1977 where the boxing was completed at the famed Ford Social Club.

In 1979, courtesy of Nellie Dunne, Albie coached his first National Elite champion in the heavyweight division. The following year Willie Duke won the Intermediate light-flyweight belt and also boxed Duke McKenzie in a full international.

Albie also helped created family and boxing history when the three Joyce brothers, Gordon, Barry and Kieran, won three Irish titles on the same night.

Some of the boxers that Albie trained included, Karl Howe, Paul Halpy, Sean and Maurice Hennessey, Olympian Michael Roche. Patrick McGrath, Glen Hackett, Pat Skillington, Sean Coughlan, Peter Kenneally and many more.

One of Albie's proudest moments was when the Sunnyside unit was selected as the Best Elite Club of the Year in 1986.

The late Albie Murphy, the illustrious Sunnyside BC coach.
The late Albie Murphy, the illustrious Sunnyside BC coach.

This award was primarily because of two hours of boxing in the National Stadium after three Irish titles returned to Leeside following outstanding performances from flyweight Paul Buttimer, light-welterweight Gordon Joyce and light-middleweight Kieran Joyce.

Albie also coached the Irish Elite squad at the European Championships in Torino, Italy in 1987. The following year he was appointed head coach for the Seoul Olympics where his protege, Kieran Joyce, boxed at his second Olympiad.

Gordon Joyce, the youngest man to ever win an Elite title aged 17, said: "All Albie wanted to see in his lifetime was the unity of Cork's boxing clubs.

"His dream was to build a purpose-built boxing centre in Cork, and he also was Secretary and President of the Cork County Board on different occasions. Albie was "Mr Boxing" in Cork, and he was both loved and recognised throughout the world."

Albie Murphy had a simple but very effective boxing philosophy. 

In an interview with RTÉ in 1986 he said: "If a young boxer gave me a commitment, I would match that 100% and if he wanted to be a champion then we were on the road together.

"When I took over the Sunnyside club 10 years ago, I wanted success. To get the success you had to have dedication from your boxers. I firmly believed that if a young boxer is committed and prepared to put the work in success will follow."


John Morrissey, the last coach to bring an Elite title to Cork following Thomas McCarthy's success in 2018, said: "Albie Murphy has left both a legacy and a footprint on Cork boxing and has set a standard that may never be matched."

John Wiseman, County Board Secretary, recalled: "One of my recollections of Albie was in 1989 when he escorted six of us to Dublin where we were doing our coaching course.

"He travelled with us on the train and spoke all the way up. His conversation was about boxing and coaches in general. We did this for three weeks, and you can be sure we were well treated in Dublin when Albie was around."

Famed Glen BC coach Tom Kelleher, the man who Board President Mick O'Brien explained was most influential in having Albie honoured, said that the Sunnyside BC man was an inspirational person.

"Albie was a man on a mission with great ideas and great standards. He had earned the respect of all both nationally and internationally," he said.

Following the unveiling of the plaque that day, a special lunch followed at the Commons Inn.

Here, fittingly, Tom Kelleher presented Albie's wife Rita with a replica of the plaque unveiled in the park.

The inscription stated: "Albie Murphy a legend of Irish boxing folklore who proudly represented Cork and excelled as a boxer, coach, administrator and ambassador."

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