Brendan Murphy (Carlow footballer)

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Brendan Murphy
Personal information
Irish name Breandán Ó Murchú
Sport Gaelic Football
Position Midfield/Full-forward
Born (1989-03-26) 26 March 1989 (age 28)
County Carlow, Republic of Ireland
Height 1.95 m (6 ft 5 in)
Years Club
2006- Rathvilly
Club titles
Carlow titles 2
Years County Apps (scores)
2010- Carlow 15 (3-30)
*Inter County team apps and scores correct as of 16 July 2017 (Championship only).

Brendan Murphy (born 26 March 1989) (Irish: Breandán Ó Murchú) is an Irish sportsman from Rathvilly, County Carlow. He is a member of the Carlow senior football team, and his local club Rathvilly.

Underage with Carlow[edit]

Murphy played minor football for Carlow and was star of the team that lost the Leinster minor football championship final in 2007. Carlow lost in Round 1 of the championship to Longford, but recovered in the playoffs, causing a massive shock in beating Meath and Wexford, before beating Westmeath and Louth to reach the final.

For a while, it looked like Murphy might miss the final through suspension after receiving a straight red card in the semi final against Louth. However, this was overturned on appeal, after video evidence showed that Murphy had been incorrectly disciplined by the referee, and he lined out against Laois in the final at Croke Park.

Carlow trailed by 3-6 to 6 points at half time (all three goals coming from corner forward Conor Meredith), but staged a heroic comeback that included a goal from Jordan Lowry. But spurned chances, including a goal chance for David Kinsella and a missed penalty by Cormac Mullins, saw the comeback fall short, as Laois took yet another minor championship crown on a score of 3-8 to 1-12.

Despite finishing on the losing side, and then being beaten by Galway in the All Ireland Quarter Final, Murphy's performances throughout the championship led to him being offered a rookie contract with the Sydney Swans AFL team in Australia.

His final game in Carlow before departing for Australia was in the U21 county championship final, which Rathvilly won in a low scoring encounter by 0–5 to 0–2. Murphy scored Rathvilly's fifth point – a free from 40 metres out.[1]


In early November 2007, Murphy left Ireland and made the journey to Sydney, Australia to attempt a switch from Gaelic football to Australian rules football.[2][3] Murphy wrote a column in the Carlow Nationalist newspaper entitled Down Under about his time in Sydney.[4] He made an impressive start in 2007.[5] In March 2009, while playing for the Swans Reserves in the AFL Canberra league, Murphy badly injured his shoulder, requiring surgery, just weeks after being forced out of football by a foot injury.[6]

Despite a promising two years in Sydney, Murphy decided to turn down the offer of a contract extension to return to Ireland in late 2009 and resume his Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) career.

Sydney Swans coach Paul Roos expressed the club's disappointment at his decision, and their hope that he might be persuaded to reconsider a return to the club.[7] Murphy's return immediately reaped dividends for his club, as Rathvilly defeated Old Leighlin to win the 2009 Carlow Senior Football Championship, their first in five years, with Murphy playing an important role.


In 2010, with most of the 2007 minor panel on board, Carlow had serious ambitions of winning the Leinster Under 21 Football Championship for the first time ever. Murphy again proved to be their standout player. Lining out at midfield, he scored a vital goal in extra time in the Preliminary Round to beat Offaly in Tullamore, before Carlow dispatched Kilkenny easily in the next round. Murphy scored five points in the game.

Carlow faced Dublin in the semi final on Saint Patrick's Day in what proved to be the game of the championship. Once again, Murphy was the outstanding player on display. He scored 0-3 from play and dominated the middle of the field, but his Man Of The Match winning performance wasn't enough to beat the Dubs, who ran out one point winners in extra time, by 0-14 to 0-13. The game ended in controversial circumstances, when Murphy appeared to be fouled by three Dublin defenders close to goal. However, the referee awarded a free out where a free in would have left Carlow with an easy point to equalise, and Dublin survived, going on to win the All Ireland.

Murphy was awarded the Cadbury Hero of the Future award for March 2010 for his performances against Offaly and Dublin.

Carlow did not fare well in the Leinster SFC Championship, however. Despite a fine performance from Murphy (scoring 3 points from midfield), they were well beaten by Wicklow in the preliminary round, before losing by 6 points to Derry, a game Murphy missed after receiving a red card the previous day.

Murphy and Rathvilly returned to the Carlow Senior Football Championship final in October 2010, again facing Old Leighlin. This time, however, the outcome was reversed, with Old Leighlin triumphant. Game one ended level at 0-7 each. Rathvilly looked set for victory, after building up a three-point lead in a low-scoring game. Murphy was at the heart of it, kicking three great points, but also a couple of bad wides. A Seamus Kinsella free levelled matters in the dying seconds, to force the tie to a replay the following Sunday.

This presented Murphy with a problem, as he was due to line out for Ireland in the International Rules Series against Australia in Limerick the day before the replay. He decided to play both games, but was visibly tired for the county final, and saw a red card in the final few minutes as Old Leighlin prevailed on a scoreline of 1–11 to 0–7.


In 2011, Murphy missed almost all of Carlow's NFL Division 4 campaign due to an ankle injury sustained in their second game against Fermanagh. Carlow were ultimately denied promotion on the final day with defeat in a "winner takes all" game in Longford.

Better was to come in the Leinster SFC quarter final that June though, as Murphy kicked three spectacular points (including one directly from a sideline ball) in the final 10 minutes as Carlow shocked Louth in Portlaoise on a scoreline of 0-14 to 0-13. The result sent Carlow into their first Leinster SFC semi final since 1958. Unfortunately Carlow were defeated in the semi final by a far superior Wexford team. Murphy scored two excellent first half points, but Carlow were beaten 4-12 to 0-10 on the day.

Carlow's season ended two weeks later at Casement Park in Belfast when they were beaten by Antrim on a scoreline of 1-13 to 2-9. It was a brave Carlow performance in a game Antrim were expected to win convincingly. Despite being reduced to 14 players for the final 20 minutes, they reduced the deficit from five points in the closing stages, thanks in part to a spectacular Brendan Murphy goal, and ended up beaten by a single point.

Murphy again missed out on success in the club championship, when Rathvilly were beaten 11 points to 10 by Tinryland in the semi final.

Murphy was again chosen to represent Ireland in the International Rules series against Australia, and was this time part of Ireland's most successful trip ever "down under". Ireland defeated the Aussies over two legs by 130 points to 65.


The 2012 National Football League campaign was a disappointing one for Carlow. The fixture list represented a great opportunity to build momentum and go into the final (tougher) games of the campaign in a position to seal promotion, but early home defeats to Leitrim and Clare (by 2 and 1 points respectively) put paid to promotion ambitions.

In the Leinster Championship, Murphy was an outstanding performer as Carlow almost caused the shock of the year when they drew 1-12 apiece with Meath in Tullamore. Murphy was, at times, simply unstoppable on the day, scoring a point from midfield, but it was his running with the ball which caused Meath all sorts of problems. A Carlow side depleted by injury (Daniel St Ledger) and suspension (Derek Hayden and Paul Reid) were well beaten in the replay (2-21 to 9 points, Murphy again scoring a point), but ran Laois (who went on to reach the All Ireland quarter final) close in Portlaoise in Round 1 of the qualifiers, eventually losing 1-10 to 9 points. This result precipitated the resignation of Carlow manager Luke Dempsey after a four-year reign.

In the Carlow Senior Football Championship, Rathvilly finished top of Group A, but lost the semi-final to Palatine, who had also beaten them in the 1st Round encounter between the two teams. During the game, Murphy was involved in an off-the-ball incident with Palatine midfielder Niall Reid which almost led to Reid being suspended for the final. However, Reid was eventually cleared to line out in Palatine's defeat to Éire Óg.


2013 brought with it more disappointment in the National Football League. An excellent start under new manager Anthony Rainbow saw Carlow win their first game in Thurles against Tipperary, before scraping a home win against a newly competitive London side. It was all downhill from there though, as Carlow lost successive games to Leitrim, Limerick, Offaly, Clare and Waterford. Most disappointing was the one-point loss in Limerick to the eventual Division winners, after leading for almost the entire game.

Things didn't get any better in the summer either, as Carlow were beaten 3-15 to 1-10 in Mullingar by Westmeath in the 1st Round of the Leinster Football Championship, before exiting the championship altogether against Laois at Dr. Cullen Park. Murphy was deployed at full forward and Mullingar and kicked five points (four from play) but also kicked several bad wides in a mixed performance.

In what was an historic first ever championship game on a Friday night, Carlow led Laois at one point by 6 points to 1, with Murphy in excellent form in the full forward line, kicking 3 great points. However, Laois gradually began to exert dominance at midfield, with man of the match (and former Minor rival of Murphy's) John O'Loughlin in flying form, and eventually ran out winners by 3-13 to 0-12.

In the Carlow SFC final, Rathvilly once again succumbed to Old Leighlin, this time on a scoreline of 1-10 to 1-8. A slow start was Rathvilly's undoing, as they found themselves 1-4 to no score behind early in the first half, though they fought their way back into the game by half time. Though he did not score, Murphy was to the fore for most of the game. The crucial moment was a point-blank save by Old Leighlin keeper James Clarke in the 52nd minute, where a goal would have given Rathvilly the lead for the first time in the game.


Murphy did not involve himself with the Carlow Senior team in 2014. There was much speculation as to the reason, with varying theories suggesting a fallout with manager Rainbow, or the need to avoid injury ahead of deployment abroad with the army. Murphy was sorely missed by the county team, who, after another disappointing league campaign, succumbed to embarrassing defeats against Meath in the Leinster Championship and against a newly resurgent Clare in the qualifiers, though a close win over Waterford in the previous round of the qualifiers provided some solace.

In the club championship, Murphy was deployed in the half back line for Rathvilly, and was often a stand-out player at number 6. In the Carlow SFC final, Rathvilly and Old Leighlin renewed hostilities; this was the fourth time in six years they had met in the decider. And Rathvilly it was who evened up the score at 2-2, defeating their rivals 2-9 to 1-10 in front of an attendance of 3,500. As captain, Murphy had the honour of lifting the trophy, though his involvement was limited by injury (he left the field after 38 minutes) and he failed to register a score.


2015 brought a new manager (Carlow native Turlough O'Brien of Éire Óg) and with it new hope of a change in the team's fortunes. Murphy's return to the panel, and the addition of several new players, was a huge boost and Carlow had a decent run of results in the O'Byrne Cup, including victory over Louth, and a near miss against Kildare, losing to a last minute goal. This gave Carlow some momentum to continue into the league, and they did.

After four games they sat unbeaten in third position following wins over London (at home) and against Waterford in Dungarvan, as well as draws in Belfast against Antrim and at home to Wicklow. Murphy received black cards in the dying stages of both the game against Waterford and against Wicklow, as he sought to preserve what Carlow held. Despite some positive results, an injury to star forward Paul Broderick in Belfast was to serve as a big blow to both their league and championship ambitions as he did not participate again for the rest of the season.

They travelled to Tullamore on St Patrick's weekend, knowing that their game with Offaly would go a long way to deciding their promotion fate, and that of their hosts. Darragh O'Brien's goal put Carlow in control mid-way through the second half at 1-9 to 0-9, but Murphy left the field of play (injured) with 15 minutes remaining and his absence was a turning point as Offaly fought their way back and came out on top by 0-14 to 1-10 with a score in injury time. Their promotion hopes were put to bed the following week, following a decisive defeat at the hands of Leitrim. They were defeated again a week later by a newly promoted Longford.

A few weeks before Carlow's Leinster SFC first round encounter with local rivals Laois, Murphy informed Turlough O'Brien that he was leaving the panel in order to travel to New York City for the summer. As it turned out, he would not have been able to participate anyway as he was injured very shortly afterwards. Missing Murphy and Broderick, Carlow offered little attacking threat against Laois, and the hosts were comprehensively beaten on a score of 3-16 to 0-8. A few weeks later, their interests in the 2015 championship was brought to an end in Longford (2-16 to 1-8).

Despite topping their group, Rathvilly were beaten in the club championship semi final by Old Leighlin.


Carlow's 2016 league campaign began with a home defeat to Antrim, but the scallioneaters were given renewed hope with to a 4-4 to 1-11 victory in London, thanks in large part to a Sean Gannon hat-trick. Defeat at home to Waterford by 3-15 to 15 points appeared to spell the end of their promotion chances, but these chances seemed to be reinvigorated by a three-point win in Aughrim the following weekend in a game where Murphy was shown the black card after about 20 minutes. A positive start the following weekend at home to Louth saw Carlow in contention early on, but Louth took over, scoring 2-10 without reply, and ran out easy winners to end Carlow's promotion hopes. Carlow did, however, finish off the campaign in a relatively positive manner, with victory in Carrick-on-Shannon and a defeat away to Wexford, leaving them finishing 4th in Division 4.

The 1st round of the Leinster championship saw Carlow reacquainted with Louth, and this time Carlow stayed with their heavily favoured opponents for much longer than in the league encounter just a couple of months earlier. Timely goals from Chris Blake and Darragh O'Brien kept them in touch, despite Louth's superior firepower, and Brendan Murphy contributed two points from midfield. Carlow were still within 2 points of their opponents after 62 minutes, but Louth finished with a flourish to win 2-24 to 3-11. The score reflected unfairly on Carlow's relatively competitive performance. Paul Broderick scored the third Carlow goal from the penalty spot late in the game.

Carlow drew neighbours Wicklow in the first round of the qualifiers, and came through with a 1-17 to 1-12 win at Dr. Cullen Park. Carlow led from start to finish, and were in front by as much as eight points at one stage. Murphy was a key man in the victory, bursting through the Wicklow defence to score Carlow's goal after 5 minutes, and adding four fine points over the course of the game.

Unfortunately, Murphy picked up a black card in that game: his second of the year. Added to two yellow cards received in the league, this meant Murphy had to sit out the next round game against Cavan at Breffni Park. Carlow were beaten 0-12 to 2-13 by their Division 1 opponents.

In the Carlow club championship, Rathvilly were beaten 2-13 to 0-12 in the county final by a Palatine team that was winning back-to-back Senior Championships for the first time in nearly a century. Rathvilly had topped their group by beating Old Leighlin, drawing with Eire Og, and beating Kildavin/Clonegal. They beat Old Leighlin again in the semi-final by 0-15 to 1-10.


The 2017 league season was something of a mixed bag for Carlow. They opened with an exciting draw in Mullingar against Westmeath, with Shane O'Neill scoring a late goal. This promising start to the campaign was undone in week 2, when Carlow were beaten by London at home. London took a huge lead into the break with the help of a wind, and though Carlow closed the gap, they were too wasteful to catch up with the Exiles, eventually losing by five points.

They recovered somewhat two weeks later with a 1-10 to 10 points win over Limerick at home, but another defeat in Carrick-on-Shannon (by 2 points to Leitrim) effectively ended their promotion hopes.

Carlow closed out the campaign with easy wins against Waterford, Wicklow (in Aughrim, notable for a fantastic individual display from Paul Broderick) and Wexford (who fielded a weakened team) to finish in 3rd place, but it was very much a case of "what might have been" had they not dropped 4 points against the two teams they probably thought their most likely source of victories at the beginning of the campaign. Murphy did not play in the final game against Wexford, as he had already received two black cards during the campaign and one more would put him out of the Leinster championship game against the same opponents.

That same history of indiscipline was to rear its head in the championship, though didn't stop Carlow making history. They won three championship games for the first time since 1944, and played football on July 15th; the latest date they had played since the "back door" system was instituted in 2001.

Carlow beat Wexford in the first round of the Leinster Championship by 2-17 to 2-13. In truth, Carlow were much the better team, but two soft goals by Naomhan Rossiter and PJ Banville kept the model county in the hunt until Murphy broke away near the end to score a cracking goal. His total that day from midfield was one goal and two points. That win, Carlow's first in the Leinster Championship since 2011, set up a marquee match-up with All Ireland Champions Dublin in Portlaoise. Carlow set out to frustrate their more illustrious opponents, and many observers were shocked to see Carlow still within a score at the break; Dublin leading 0-8 to 0-5. There was still just four points between the teams with 22 minutes remaining when Murphy received his second yellow card after a tussle with Jonny Cooper, and Carlow could only manage one more score, eventually losing 0-19 to 0-7 with Murphy contributing one fine first half point (the first score of the game).

Though his sending off did not result in a suspension, Carlow (successfully) applied to have one of Murphy's yellow cards rescinded, perhaps in anticipation of further cautions in future games resulting in a suspension. This assumption was well founded, as Murphy found himself receiving two more yellow cards (within 60 seconds of each other) in Carlow's 1st round qualifying game against London in Ruislip. This meant that he was suspended for Carlow's 2nd round game at home to Leitrim, after Carlow came through against the Exiles by a mere point, 0-13 to 0-12. Murphy again contributed one score. In Murphy's absence, Carlow dismissed Leitrim on a scoreline of 2-14 to 0-13, with Paul Broderick and Ciaran Moran providing the goals.

Carlow's historic trip to the 3rd round (their first ever) resulted in a visit to Dr. Cullen Park from Monaghan, who had only missed out on a place in the Division One final of the National League on score difference. It was here that Carlow's championship run ended on a scoreline of 1-12 to 1-7. However, they managed to stay with their much more experienced opposition for most of the game, leading by two points with 15 minutes to play, and were still level with their Division One opponents inside the final ten minutes. Murphy scored two excellent points from play and put in a terrific (and indeed a much more disciplined) shift at right half forward, but Carlow's brave performance was in vain.