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Paddy Murray- An Appreciation by Tommy Powderly

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight that matters; it’s the size of the fight in the dog, and the size of the courage and football ability that was packed into the five feet four frame of the late Paddy Murray was truly formidable.” This was the opening paragraph of the valedictory address presented to his wife, Mary, at the St. Kevin’s Golden Jubilee Dinner in 1999. It was a paragraph that encapsulated his qualities of talent, loyalty and outspoken honesty. 

It was these qualities he brought to St. Kevin’s Camogie Club when he was appointed as a selector in the early eighties following a lifetime of service to the parent-body on the field of play and in administration. 

Quick to spot and evaluate the talents of a player- and equally quick to spot the lack of it- he was ruthless in separating the “wheat from the chaff”. No other consideration than courage, talent and will t win was allowed to cloud his judgement of a player- “if she’s worth her place, she’ll get it; if not, she won’t.” he would snap. The honesty of evaluation, coupled with a good instinct in the ‘placing’ of a player where her talents would be best utilised undoubtedly was a primary cause of the six year domination by the team on the county camogie scene. 

He believed that ‘simplicity’ was the key to victory in any game and detested over elaboration in play. An example of his ideas in tactical play was when he suggested that Philomena Callan’s lengthy puck-out was not being used to full advantage. The idea was that, prior to the puck-out, all our forwards move out to near centre-field. The opposing backs would stay with them- leaving a large empty area in front of the opponent’s goal. Our forwards to start their run goal-wards as the puck was taken and have the advantage of “facing their work” (as he put it); of running goal-wards with the flight of the ball. It was a tactic that resulted in easy scores and quite a few victories. 

Gaelic football was very close to Paddy’s heart and he seldom missed a game home or away. In his home are many trophies from his hey-days with St. Kevin’s. If he had a fault, it was a ‘fault’ that was rooted in his desire for honest effort on the part of all players. Woe betide the shirker! A tongue lashing from Paddy for failure to deliver 100% effort during a game was always , to the victim, a memorabl event. Yet he was always totally forgiving of any player who honestly played and was honestly beaten. 

When he died, the guard of honour, by the men, women and children of St. Kevin’s testified to the popularity of a great clubman and an outstanding personality. As one of his old friends expressed, “for a small man, isn’t he leaving a very big gap?”

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