Murphy steps down
Health issue and the need for change cause decision
AFTER a two-year term in charge of the Wicklow hurlers, Rathnure’s Seamus Murphy has stepped down citing health reasons and a need for fresh impetus within the county squad as the main reasons behind his decision.
Two Kehoe Cup finals, a national league final and two Christy Ring semi-finals were the destinations the former Glenealy manager took the Garden County team to during his tenure. Murphy feels that if no success has been achieved within two years then it is best for a management team to step down and move on.
In a statement released by the Wexford native he claimed that his decision to step down will benefit Wicklow hurling by giving fringe players and older players something to drive for under new management.
Murphy began his statement by that a meeting had been arranged by the Wicklow County Board to discuss the county hurling and football management and that he had made his decision to step down and would not be attending that meeting.
‘A week after we lost the Christy Ring Cup semi-final to London I was asked to attend the launch of the local championships within the county by the county board which I gladly did as it was very important at the time for the hurlers to be represented by management,’ wrote Seamus Murphy.
‘During the past few weeks I would have been giving this position a lot of thought and consideration, particularly as I have a health issue which needs to be cared for in the weeks and months ahead and, secondly, I feel that now is the right time for Wicklow hurling to benefit going forward.
‘I’ve always been a firm believer from my experience being involved with teams over the years that when there is no silverware for the trophy cabinet achieved within two years it’s best to step down and move on, even though it might be somewhat different at underage.
‘My decision, I feel, will help in a few ways. Number one: When I took over in October 2016, when we came together for meetings and training, some of the more experienced, long-serving players felt time was catching up on them and they felt they needed to win something quickly or that chance would be gone.
‘Some of those players at the moment would probably be considering inter-county retirement and a new manager coming in always creates a new interest, a new course of hope and enthusiasm and should prompt players like those to stay on because Wicklow hurling needs that for leadership qualities on and off the field and it also helps to keep the panel strong in depth and a guide and protection for young players coming in.
‘Secondly. For players who have been on the panel during the last two years and have got little game time, it gives them new hope and confidence to get their chance to break into the team and impress, and it also gives an opportunity for some new players showing form in the local championships or some players that have been passed over.
‘I suppose looking back on the two years, first of all I must thank the people throughout the county who encouraged me to take on this job and also the people who appointed me and supported me along the way because this wasn’t the most glamorous or exciting job to take on seeing as this team was in two relegation finals at the end of the 2016 season and with no continued flow of underage success it was always going to be a huge challenge.
‘Michael Neary came in as coach and trainer and put in a huge and endless effort from day one with the assistance of Shay Dunne as physical trainer on numerous occasions. For the 2018 season, two former stalwarts Timmy Collins and Michael Anthony O’Neill, who owe Wicklow hurling nothing, joined the backroom team as selectors.
‘During the two years, we wer emost unfortunate not to win some silverware, reaching the Kehoe Cup final twice, beaten in the 2017 league final and losing out in two Christy Ring Cup semi-finals, one of them to the eventual winners, Carlow, and we were always good enough to keep relegation out of sight and the players deserve great credit for this in their performances. And the fact that we won roughly 18 games out of the 25 or 26 that were competitive speaks volumes for the players themselves.
‘Injuries nowadays to players are high risk and certainly we had ours, too many to mention really, which made it much more difficult to get results in certain games. But through the great willingness of the players to get back match fit and the character they showed was remarkable and with the work of John Coyle and his staff there was always hope of recovery.
‘If you were to ask me over the two years what were the high points I probably would say number one was defeating a strong Kildare team in Newbridge in 2017 in the Christy Ring Cup with three outside players, notably David Reidy who has now won an All-Ireland Senior medal with Limerick this year.
‘And another standout performance was the courageous and gallant display given by the Under-21 team against Kerry in Thurles last year, losing out by three points in the All-Ireland final and eight of those players have been part of a Kerry Senior panel playing national league and championship this year.
‘I would like to thank PJ Morrissey, out kit man, who has made a great contribution to the set up during the two years.
‘Also, I would like to thank Mick Hagan and Dave Murray in administration for their services, and Martin Fitzgerald and the county board for their support during that period of time. And also, thanks to WH Scott for their sponsorship without which it is not possible to work.
‘Also, thanks to the staff in Ballinakill for their hospitality and kindness and to anyone who has helped in any other way.
‘Also thanks to the GAA clubs within the county for their cooperation and to all the Wicklow supporters, even though small (numbers) at times, it was always appreciated and particularly the ones who travelled far and wide through thick and thin.
‘I would also like to thank the Wicklow People newspaper and its staff for their sterling work and cooperation with their reports of games from week to week, and also thanks to any other media communication outlets researching and promoting the games.
‘Finally, last but not the least, I would like to pay special praise and thanks to Michael Neary, coach and trainer, Timmy Collins and Michael Anthony O’Neill, selectors, for their hard work and dedication during their time involved and I’m sure that those men will make a huge contribution to Wicklow hurling in the future as they have done in the past in whatever role of duty they take on.
‘To both the Senior and Under-21 players I cannot compliment or thank them enough for their dedication and commitment and bravery against all the obstacles and also to their families for giving them the time and space to represent their county.
‘Also, thanks to the players who came in to trials and didn’t succeed, and to the players who played in internal matches for training.
‘Hopefully, under new management, everyone requested will put their shoulder to the wheel, work even harder and there’s a good chance of success. ‘I wish you well. ‘On a personal note I would like to thank my own family, my wife Margaret, daughter Bridget, and son Francis for giving me the time and opportunity to do this job which was an enjoyable journey and it was a privilege and honour to do it with such a fine group of people and what a pity we didn’t have success together,’ he added.
Seamus Murphy, who has stepped down as Wicklow Senior hurling boss.