Tom Murphy was born on 11 August 1923, and during a long and illustrious cricket career, he played for Knockbrack, Walshestown, Rush, Balrothery, Man-O-War and North County Cricket Clubs. He made his debut for Knockbrack CC in 1939 when he went to watch one of his brothers playingagainst Tobbergregan. Knockbrack was one player short, and in an era where official player registrations were less formalthan they are today, Tom was asked to play. He batted at Number 11, hit the first ball that he faced for 6, shortly after he hit a four, and was 15 not out at the end of the game. This was the start of a lifelong commitment to the game of a cricket, both as a player and an administrator.
Tom was a founder member of Walshestown CC in 1940, and he starred with this club during the twenty years of its existence. Walshestown played Fingal League cricketexclusively, and it won the Fingal A League on 4 occasions (1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953), thanks in no small part to Tom’s contributions with bat and ball. During this period also, he was a leading member of the Fingal League representative teams which played and beat senior clubs such as Phoenix and Leinster.
For years, Rush was the only Fingal League club which played Leinster League cricket on a regular basis, and consequently, many of the leading Fingal cricketers gravitated to Rush so that they could experience cricket at Leinster League level. Tom was a member of the Rush team which won the Leinster Intermediate Cup in 1950, and this team also played in the inaugural Irish Junior Cup but lost to Cork Bohemians in the final.
When Walshestown CC ceased to exist, many of its members such as the Murphys, Morgans, Garrys and Rooneys were instrumental in forming Man-O-War CC which entered the Fingal League in 1962, and the Leinster League in 1963. During a 23-year period (1962- 1985), Man-O-War CC was incredibly successful both in Fingal League and Leinster League competitions. On Tom’s own reckoning, he is the proud possessor of 22 Fingal League trophies and using this figure as the basis for the calculations, there were 4 trophy wins with Walshestown, 10 Fingal A League wins with Man-O-War and 8 Fingal Championship medals also with Man-O-War. This is an outstanding achievement in terms of quality and quantity, and will never be equalled, let alone surpassed.
The lack of a defined structure meant that there were inherent difficulties for the Fingal teams which sought to play Leinster Senior League cricket, but in 1983, Man-O-War CC was invited to play in the Leinster Senior Cup. On a very proud day for the Murphy family, Tom, his three sons (Michael, John, and Joe), and his nephew (Patrick) played against CYM. At the age of 60, Tom Murphy bowled 12 overs and only conceded 19 runs. This was not the end of Tom’s playing career, and he continued for a further 9 years. In 1992, at the age of 69, he played against CYM, and took 2 wickets.
In addition to his prowess as a player, Tom was a leading administrator in the Fingal League and at club level. He served as Treasurer and Secretary of the Fingal League and was a member of the Fingal League Executive for many years. He also fulfilled leading administrative roles in the Man-O-War club, assisted with the preparation of the ground at the Nevitt and constructed a sightscreen.
Tom Murphy was the quintessential Fingal cricketer. Uncompromising on the field, he played the game without fear or favour, but always with respect for its laws and traditions. In his retirement from cricket, Tom’s recall of games and events is phenomenal, and he has been a rich resource for people who have sought to record the history of cricket in Fingal.
The strength of Fingal cricket has always been due to families who were the bedrock of the clubs. Josephine, Tom’s late wife, his sons (Thomas, John, Michael, and Joe), his daughters (Deirdre, Angela, and Josephine) have all been involved in cricket, and this involvement has continued with his grandchildren.
During the Leinster Cricket Union’s Centenary Year in 2019, it was fitting that Tom was honoured at several events, and he was the recipient of a presentation on the occasion which marked the establishment of the Leinster Cricket Union, at the launch of 100 Not Out and at the Annual Dinner. In March 2020, he was also honoured by the Fingal League at an event in The Hills CC.
Members of the wider cricket community join with the Murphy family in sending its best wishes and congratulations to Tom Murphy on his 98th birthday.
Ad multos annos!
1. Thanks to Joe Curtis for providing the photographs
2. Thanks to Joe Murphy for clarification of some elements of this article.