Echo Women in Sport award: Grace Murphy starred in Naomh Abán's Munster title success

Rory Noonan talks to our latest award winner, who has an All-Ireland final to look forward to this weekend
Echo Women in Sport award: Grace Murphy starred in Naomh Abán's Munster title success

Grace Murphy of Naomh Abán in action against Hazel Hughes of Castleblayney Faughs. Picture: Cian O'Regan/Sportsfile

IT has been a year to remember for Naomh Aban’s Grace Murphy.

The football star was instrumental in her club’s run in the Cork junior football championship, culminating in a win over O’Donovan Rossa in the final at MTU.

It was on to the Munster championship then and, for her display in the final against Oola, Murphy was named the latest winner of The Echo Women in Sport Awards.

The corner-forward, who is studying arts at UCC, was a key player all through their run, but on a day when weather conditions didn’t favour either side, her overall display was key to their win.

She may line out at corner-forward, but Murphy can be found in the full-back line, helping out her defence and then bursting forward at pace to be at the end of an attacking move, or to set one up.

It was no surprise that Murphy was named Player of the Game after the Munster final as her side continued on their journey to the All-Ireland decider, which due to be played last weekend but has been rescheduled for Saturday at 1pm in Cahir because of last week’s cold snap.

Murphy’s football career started when she was just four years old, playing in the boys’ section of Clondrohid, close to where she lives.

There was no girls team at the time, so she had to line out with the boys until she was about 12 before switching to Naomh Abán.

Murphy feels that playing with the boys has stood to her.

“I had some great trainers in Clondrohid and they didn’t care if you were a girl or a boy, they were going to be as tough on you as on the boys; you didn’t get any special treatment,” she said.

I do think playing with them helped me, especially when I was between 10 and 12, as they were becoming faster, so I think that was a big help.

“When I was U12 it was a tough enough year; I played with the boys’ side in Clondrohid and also the Naomh Aban girls’ team, but afterwards it was just with the girls’ side as we weren’t allowed to play with the boys anymore.”

With Naomh Abán, Murphy has enjoyed plenty of success at underage, culminating in the minor county title last year.

A couple of months later she added an U21 county title to her collection.

Murphy also made Cork underage teams, starting when she was 13, and during her time with Cork she won Munster championships at U16 and minor levels.

The minor victory came last year, but due to Covid, there was no All-Ireland series.

“We had a really young team when I was on it and we won the Munster minor title and I was delighted to see a lot of them go on to win the All-Ireland title this year.”

Naomh Abán manager Noel McDonagh celebrates with Grace Murphy and Amy McDonagh. Picture: Cian O'Regan/Sportsfile
Naomh Abán manager Noel McDonagh celebrates with Grace Murphy and Amy McDonagh. Picture: Cian O'Regan/Sportsfile

Looking at this season, starting with their Cork campaign, Murphy said they took it game by game.

“We really did take it game by game, but we were boosted coming off the back of the U21 win last year. Then it was a bit up in the air for the league, with some of the girls in America, and I had a broken toe and was out for a few months, so we didn’t do well in that.

“Then the championship began and we started winning and we never looked beyond the next game and we managed to reach the final.

“That was a great day at MTU and the atmosphere was brilliant. We always say our support is brilliant and travel everywhere with us.

“Our first championship match was down in Beara and we had a huge crowd down there and that continued all through and in the final.


“It was the same in Munster, and two weeks ago at Ballyvourney for the All-Ireland semi-final it was unbelievable; the atmosphere was brilliant.

“The village was kitted out with bunting and flags from the Cork final right up to the All-Ireland final.

“Winning the Cork title was brilliant and we didn’t have much hope going into the Munster series, but again we took it game by game and managed to reach the final.

“We are all such good friends and on the way home from the semi-final we said we have to give it a right go now. Weather conditions on the day were bad, but we had been training in it back in January, so we were well used to it.

“It was great to win, but to be honest I don’t think it has all sunk in yet and it’s only when we look back in a few months time that we will realise what we have done.”

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