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Brian Murphy – the centre of attention

The centre of attention

Brian Murphy has got Connacht fans talking

Rob Murphy

AS inspiring sports tales go, Brian Murphy’s has to be up there. Wearing 12 for Connacht for the past two games, the Glencorrib native has made quite an impact. Two key assists in victories over Cardiff away and Zebre at home has got people talking.
The unassuming former Corrib RFC star has been quick out of the blocks now that his chance in the professional game has finally come about. The Mayoman played his club rugby with the junior club just down the road in Headford, after he missed out on an academy contract.
He then joined Galwegians to get a taste of All-Ireland League rugby while holding dual status for the Junior Cup. It has taken six years, but – slowly but surely – he has worked his way through to the professional game to the point where, earlier this month, he took to the field in front of over 4,000 Connacht fans at the Sportsground.
“It felt brilliant running out for the Zebre game,” he told The Mayo News. “I wasn’t sure if I’d have such a chance after the injury in pre-season. The first cap in Cardiff and the fact that it was our first win there for 12 years was incredible, but the crowd at home adds to it even more. It’s just a good feeling.”
Murphy’s form with Galwegians last year saw him earn himself a development contract with the province, and his pre-season efforts had been turning heads before a knee injury hampered his progress.
“I tore a large piece of cartilage in my right knee in pre-season and that meant I had to head to the Santry Sports Clinic to get it taken out,” he explains. “That kept me out for ten weeks and when I got back the focus was just playing well for Galwegians, the Connacht Eagles and waiting for a chance.”
His form in the British and Irish Cup and the Ulster Bank League, helped but an injury crisis in February was key to him getting a look in for Connacht. His sharp performance away to Exeter way back in August probably eased minds in management when they decided to put him in for the Cardiff game, and his performance rewarded their faith in that unlikely and uplifting win.
At the age of 27, Murphy is in a small minority in terms of players who have broken through at a late stage. But considering just six years ago he was videoing Connacht games from the main stand for his father John’s video company, it has been some journey for the former Shrule/Glencorrib footballer.
“I’m a big sports fan,” he says. “I don’t know what I’d do if I wasn’t playing sport. I don’t think I went out with the intention of getting a contract or playing professional. I just kept playing sport and the opportunity came to me. I’d say to other players in a similar situation to keep at it, don’t get down-hearted. The opportunities can come at 20 or 27.”
Murphy and Connacht will be in Cork next Saturday night for the Musgrave Park showdown with Munster in a game that he describes as ‘huge in terms of our targets for this season’. They’ll be looking to continue a run of three wins on the bounce in this late-season surge.