|Born||5 April 1945 Dublin|
|Educated||Middleton College, Co Cork; Dublin University|
|Occupation||Schoolteacher, Rugby Coach|
|Debut||25 June 1980 v West Indies at Castle Avenue|
|Style||Right-hand batsman, wicket keeper.|
|Teams||YMCA, Dublin Unversity, Phoenix, Cork County|
|History||Gerry Murphy, a stockily built man, was a good batsman, at home anywhere in the upper order. He was also a first rate wicket keeper, a fact which is often missed as he seems to have owed his selection for Ireland to his undoubtedly superior batting ability over Eddie Bushe, whom he briefly replaced in the Irish side. While Bushe was the better keeper, Gerry was not far, if at all behind several others who wore the gloves for Ireland during his time. His 29 year career in Senior Cricket began with Dublin's YMCA club in 1962, but really took off after, he established a permanent place in the Dublin University side in his first season, 1964, as a batsman only. The University's cricket at this time was dominated by ex English public school boys, who filled most of the places in the three XIs which were regularly turned out. Some Irish students preferred to play for outside clubs, others moved out, disliking the atmosphere. This writer, however, who acted as scorer for the 1st XI for two seasons in the early 60s before the needs of academic work took over and subsequently did some umpiring, never experienced anything other than friendship and good nature. It is to be assumed that Gerry felt the same, though in his first year in the side there was only one other Irish educated player. The following season, he was the only one. Even David Garst, a talented American slow left armer, had been at an English school. When Gerry was elected captain in 1968, in itself a great tribute to him from his team-mates, he was the first Irishman to hold the post for 11 years. His batting for the University was consistent, rather than outstanding; he scored only two fifties in competitive matches during this time. |
He was to score, in all, 8279 runs in Leinster League and Cup Cricket at 24.34, before his retirement in 1991. Twice captain of Phoenix, he hit thirty seven 50s and four 100s. The highest of these, 131, was made for Phoenix v Carlisle in the 1979 Senior Cup Final at Park Avenue. Ably supported by Stan Mitchell, Gerry's brilliant innings enabled his side to post an impressive 295-7 off their 60 overs. Despite good batting from Dennis Jacobson, son of Louis, Carlisle were never in the hunt. Gerry played two other key Cup Final innings. In a low scoring match at Anglesea Road in 1975, Leinster was put out for 85, but Phoenix struggled in reply. Gerry's 28 helped them to a 5 wicket win. 1976 saw one of the most exciting of all Finals. Jack Short, in magisterial form, saw Leinster to an impressive 227-5, his own score, 142, was a Cup Final record. However Phoenix fought back with David Pigot (65) and Gerry (60) setting up a last ball 2 wicket win. In 1984 he spent half a season back in College Park, in a player coach capacity. With a top score of 90 v CYM, a century for the University still eluding him, he headed the averages, though the side did not have a good season. He kept wicket in 378 of 416 his matches, holding 265 catches and making 125 stumpings. He was the leading wicket keeper in Leinster in 1974 with 31 dismissals and in 1980 with 24. Together with Sean O'Brien of Malahide and Pat Tynan of Old Belvedere, he took the honours in 1966 also, with 21. Gerry was also a consistent, if not heavy scorer in the Guinness Cup. One occasion when he came good in vein in these matches was at Phoenix in 1982 v Ulster Town. His 53 helped North Leinster attain a defendable total. However RT Wills and Chris Harte ensured the visitors' success.
In July 1969, he was selected, as a batsman, to play for Ireland v Wilfred Isaac's XI at Rathmines. As the visitors were a team of white South Africans, he declined the cap. At this distance, when passions over the sporting contacts with South Africa issue, have long since cooled, it may be difficult to realise just what emotions were involved. Then however, only months after the D'Oliveira affair and with disruption already promised for forthcoming South African Rugby and Cricket tours of Britain and Ireland, it was a very different matter. Gerry was certainly at odds with his potential Irish team-mates and with the Irish Cricket Union, in making his decision. Whatever view is taken of his action - and there were several - it marked him as man of high principle who was prepared to risk his future in Irish Cricket for what he believed to be right. The fact that he had to wait eleven years before being selected again, might lead some to believe that he did indeed harm his chances by the stand he took. In August of that year he represented Munster, for whom he was qualified having lived and been educated there, against the star studded Pakistan International Airlines tourists. Batting at no 5 he made 23 in the first innings, third top score following half centuries by Pat Dineen and Robin Waters, before being stumped by Wasim Bari, long serving Test keeper, off the slow left armer Pervez Sajiid. He only managed 3 in the second knock falling to paceman Asif Masood as Munster, having posted 219/6 in their first innings, collapsed in the second. Keeping wicket, he caught opener Rehman Ali off former Bradford League medium pacer Dennis Leng for 0 as the visitors lost three early wickets in the first innings, before Zaheer Abbas and Shafqat Rana took control.
When he did eventually gain his first cap, Gerry was again the centre of some controversy. In 1980, Ireland were due to play, for the first time, in England's premier knock out competition, then the Gillette Cup. Partly as preparation for this, the two one day games against the powerful West Indies side were to be limited overs matches. The Irish selectors decided that a long batting order was needed and brought in Gerry to replace Eddie Bushe, of Waringstown, who had just succeeded Ossie Colhoun, and was probably the best available wicket keeper. Gerry's keeping proved to be sound, particularly against the West Indies. He caught opener Faoud Baachus off Ivan Anderson in the first game and allowed no byes in either match with the tourists, though there were 12 against Middlesex, in a match where Mike Halliday's off spin at one time looked to be about to cause a major upset. However as a batsman, Gerry was deemed to have failed and Bushe returned. While many, including this writer will always believe that the best wicket keeper should play irrespective of bating ability, it is arguable that Gerry hardly had the chance to prove himself. In the first Windies match rain prevented him from batting. In the second he was 5* when Ireland's rain restricted innings was closed. True, batting at 9, he was bowled for 0 at Lord's as Ireland's batting crumbled following good work by Jack Short and Ivan Anderson, but many more highly reputed batsmen than he have been undone by Wayne Daniel's yorker. It could, therefore, be argued that he did not have the chance to prove his batting ability.
Gerry was also a very useful Rugby full back at senior level and later became a well respected coach. Between 1993 and 1995, he had charge of the Irish side. Just as it would be unfair to judge his batting credentials on a duck against Daniel, so he was unlucky to take over when the national side was at low ebb. He himself declared that his aim was, "to win one nil against Scotland," unfortunately such a modest target was hardly achieved. He exceeded this modest target with wins over the USA and Romania as well as two over England and a draw with Scotland. He should, probably, thus be remembered as the only Irish coach to be unbeaten against England! His main achievement as a rugby player was as captain of the University XV for two seasons 1967 - 69. He was thus the seventh man to captain both the cricket and rugby teams, his predecessors having been Robert Traill, Arthur Gwynn, Harry Read, stylish but uncapped left hander Bill Moynan, said to have been denied a cap by his poor fielding, Larry Warke and Rhodesian medical student Percy Sang in 1958. Gerry led his team to the Leinster Senior Cup Final in 1969, where they had the ill luck to be defeated by St Mary's College in a replay.
This writer has two personal memories of Gerry with which to end. One Saturday afternoon in 1964, having torn myself away from some long overdue academic work, I strolled into College Park to take in half an hour's cricket. A wicket fell and Gerry came in to face, if memory serves correctly the bowling of nagging round the wicket left armer Niall McConnell of Railway Union, always a most difficult bowler to score off. Gerry suddenly rolled out a cover drive of such pure elegance that every detail of it remains etched on the mind more than 40 years later. He was out soon afterwards and I returned to the French Second Empire uplifted by what I had seen. The following summer, I was pressed into service to umpire a Senior League match in College Park v Clontarf. Of course my colleague, a "real" umpire should have only allowed me to stand at square leg, but he showed no signs of doing this and Clontarf raised no objection. Gerry came in at 3 or 4 and suddenly flicked at a ball down the leg side. Whether it was arm, shirt or glove that made contact with the ball, I had no idea. Even the bowler, Ernie Bodell, was very half-hearted in his appeal, though the keeper and close fielders seemed convinced. I took half a step towards my colleague, but Gerry was already gone, gloves off, striding towards the pavilion, walking when he might very well have "got" the decision.
The cover drive marked him as a batsman of genuine class, walking in those circumstances, and his later decision not to play against Isaac's XI, both of which were against his personal interests marked him as a man of high principle.
I am indebted to Trevor West (Editor) "Dublin University football Club. 150 Years of Trinity Rugby 1854 - 2004" for details of Gerry's Unversity rugby career.
Edward Liddle, April 2008, updated February 2011 and February 2020
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