Jim Murphy was laid to rest earlier this week following a huge send off by his family and many of his sporting and business colleagues and friends. St John’s church (a ‘Continent’ man through and through) was packed to capacity. Jim was a colossus in Kilkenny sporting and business circles having excelled at soccer, golf and business.
He was a deeply passionate Kilkenny man who was so proud of his heritage and all things Kilkenny especially the hurlers and their magnificent achievements.
An instant ‘wit’ he had a mercurial gift for storytelling - often against himself - and in particular as a raconteur and was known the length and breadth of the country as ‘Galtee’ in soccer and ‘JD’ in golf. Many of the stories that abounded amongst his friends at his removal on Saturday and his interment on Sunday were of epic proportions.
Only last year I had the pleasure of playing at Arklow golf club and one of the members there upon hearing that we were from Kilkenny asked me how was JD? I asked him his name, just tell JD it was Paddy from Arklow and he will know who it is. Jim did.
Stylish and accomplished
In soccer he was a most stylish and accomplished centre half and acquitted himself at the highest levels with his beloved Evergreen and Kilkenny. He won every honour available in domestic soccer in Kilkenny with Evergreen including McCalmont Cup, League and Maher Shield titles.
With Evergreen he played alongside such luminaries of the local game as Billy Reinhardt RIP, Liam ‘Chunkey’ O’Brien, Pat ‘Rusty’ Scanlon RIP, Tommy Jordan RIP, Danny ‘Algie’ Lanigan RIP, Jim McEvoy and Larry Drennan.
A perfectionist in everything that he turned his hand to, and this was very evident when he went into team management with Evergreen. In a few short seasons he brought them from mediocrity all the way to the final of the FAI Junior Cup at Tolka Park, Dublin in 1983-84 in front of over 6,000 people.
This was a very considerable achievement, as over 700 teams all over Ireland participate in this competition annually and no other Kilkenny team either before or since has managed to reach the final. He was a tough task master, set high standards and demanded that everyone under his stewardship attain and surpass those standards.
He wore the club’s President’s blazer with tremendous pride.
He was never one to be caught up in just his own world for he was a huge admirer of others ambitions and achievements and none more so that when EMFA brought senior soccer to Kilkenny in 1985. He always maintained that this would be the catalyst for many young Kilkenny players to
aspire to senior soccer and gave the local kids a goal to strive towards.
Successful business man
Jim was also a very successful business man having started out with the Royal Liver Assurance Company and worked alongside the legendary Kilkenny GAA County Board secretary, Paddy Grace. Having attained the No 1 sales representative status in Ireland on a number of occasions he moved on to become manager of the First National Building Society.
Later he would set up his own very successful financial business under the banner of J.D. Murphy and Associates.
His contribution to golf was enormous as a player, on club teams, Manager, Captain 1983 and President of Kilkenny golf club in its centenary year in 1996. He was a very low single figure handicap golfer who could match the best in the club and often surpass. His skills and talent as a
golfer helped many club teams over the line in club competitions up and down the country.
An unfortunate road car accident curtailed his playing career in recent years, but he was not a man happy to rest on his laurels on the fairways of Ireland and perhaps his biggest contribution was as a coach, mentor and life advisor to hundreds of young up and coming budding golfers at the practice grounds at Glendine. This is probably his greatest sporting legacy.
A walk up High Street, John Street or Patrick Street or to meet him at his second home the chipping green at Glendine was a real pleasure to delight in when you ‘ran into JD’ as it would always end with laughter following some very humorous story or other that he had related to you.
One such story in very recent times involved me advising him of the sensational news that a member had recently shot a 59 net in the weekend’s competition, to which he replied: “It did not beat 54.” and he added “and by the way I lost a ball on the second in doing so.”
He took great fatherly pride, in a very dignified and humble way, in Gary’s achievements on the professional European Golf Tour. He was never one to boast or talk very much about Gary’s achievements, but you knew that he was so happy that Gary had attained such high standards as both an amateur and a professional -as any father would do.
Kilkenny life will be all the poorer for Jim’s passing but those engaging encounters on the soccer fields in Kilkenny, on High Street and at the practice ground at Glendine will last long in the memory of so many hugely enjoyable occasions.
To his wife Ann and children Jean, Gary, Hilary and Orla, brother Billy, sisters Vera, Kit, Mary, Olive, Clare and Nell, daughter-in-law Elaine, grandchildren Hollie and Daniel goes the sincere sympathy of the Kilkenny sporting and business worlds, for their loss is the greatest of all.