Michael 'Dasher' Murphy (1914-2004)
Oration at his graveside in Saint Cormac's Cemetery, Cashel, October 13, 2004
Members of the Murphy family, relations, neighbours and friends of the Dasher, we are gathered here today to say farewell to a man, who made his mark on the life of the town and parish of Cashel
It's stated in the Bible that man's span is three score years and ten, but the Dasher went well beyond that, and reached the fine old age of four score years and ten, becoming during that time not only the father of a family, but a grandfather and great-grandfather as well.
So, while it's a time of sadness to experience his passing, particularly for Johnny, Michael, Lissie and Mary, and for his children and grandchildren, it is also a time for celebration, the celebration of a life that was lived to the full, and that left memories for family and friends to cherish in future years.
Mickey Murphy's life was for many years associated with Cashel King Cormac's, a club and a team to which he gave extraordinary service over twenty-five years. That career commenced in success with a West minor hurling medal in 1931, and concluded with a county junior hurling medal in 1954.
Interestingly the minor medal wasn't presented to him until November of last year, when he received it at a function in Bru Boru. The last medal he won, the greatest success experienced by the club until the county senior success in 1991, was recalled in a commemorative event at the same venue, as late as September 14. Unfortunately Mickey was unable to be there in person, as illness had confined him to his bed, but the club chairman, Ger Slattery, and secretary, Mattie Finnerty, called to his house and made the presentation. Those of us who were present that night recall a man, who was in outstanding form, mentally alert, and full of chat and memories.
Since then he went downhill as if he was happy that his achievements had been recognised, and that his place in the history of Gaelic games in this town and parishwas secure.
Between 1931 and 1954 Mickey graced the hurling fields of Tipperary, and further afield, with skill and energy, above all with dash. The sobriquet, 'the Dasher', he earned from the way he used to dash out from his position in the backs to clear the ball.
And, we can see him in our minds eye dashing out with the ball on numerous occasions, to win a divisional junior medal in 1933, and senior medals in 1934, 1936, 1937, 1939, 1940, 1945, 1948, during that wonderful period in the club's history.
During that period he played also in three county finals, none, alas, successful.
For a time during the thirties Mickey was also in the sights of the county selectors and played on a number of occasions in league and tournament games. He never commanded a permanent place, according to the late Jim Devitt, because he was unfortunate to be there at a time when there was a lot of talent competing for his position at wingback.
It was left to his son, Johnny, to achieve inter-county distinction, firstly with the Tipperary minors in 1952, 1953 and 1954, and later for many years with New York. Mickey was immensely proud of his son's achievements. Mickey also achieved fame across the water, when he emigrated to England for three years in the forties, winning an All-English championship with Lancashire.
Hurling meant a huge amount to the Dasher. He once said to me: 'Hurling was my whole life. When I came back from work I went to the field before I had my tea. On the Sunday morning of a match you'd be as proud as a peacock getting ready to go off and hurl. You'd cry if you weren't picked to play.'
Because of that love, Mickey gave a great part of his life to the game. The Cashel King Cormac's club recognised his contribution when they made him a Life President in the early nineties. We recognise him as one of our greatest players. His achievements have been overshadowed by the great successes of the club in the nineties, and the many fine players that wore the jersey proudly, but they will never be forgotten.
The fine turnout of the club members for the guard of honour last night, the presence of so many today, is testament to the esteem with which the Dasher was held. In any Team of the Century, in any Team of the Millennium, that this club will ever pick, Mickey Murphy will be an automatic choice. This town was by-passed on Monday but the Dasher will never be by-passed in the memories of the Cashel King Cormac's Club.
As president of this fine club, I am privileged to have been asked, on behalf of the Cashel King Cormac's, to pay respects to this man of four score years and ten, who brought such honour to the club over a wide span of years. It is fitting that he is laid to rest within view of the famous Rock and of the town he loved so well, and beside the field where the game he loved continues to be played, and the clash of the ash can be heard.
Last year, on a Sunday in November, Mickey Murphy was made a member of Cumann na Sean Ghael. Just a month ago he was honoured on the fiftieth anniversary of his county final victory. Today, he becomes a member of Cumann na Sean-Iomainaithe ar Neamh and my wish is that he will continue to enjoy the game in the green fields of heaven.
Ar dheis De go raibh a ainm.