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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Desmond James Murphy
  • Born 6 July 1896 Armagh
  • Died 30 January 1982, Cabinteely, Co Dublin
  • Educated Clongowes Wood College, Co Kildare; University College, Dublin
  • Occupation Schoolmaster later Headmaster
  • Debut 22 July 1920 v Scotland at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh
  • Cap Number 300
  • Style Right hand batsman; right arm leg break bowler.
  • Teams University College, Dublin; Pembroke

Des Murphy was a useful cricketer when at Clongowes, but the outbreak of War crucially denied him the chance to develop at a key stage of his career. At the end of the conflict he turned out not only for Pembroke, but also for University College, who were, briefly, a senior team. Incidentally, neither their qualification rules nor those of the Leinster Cricket Union were very strict at the time. Amongst Des's "student" team-mates was the 51 year old off spinner Bill Harrington, who appears to have played on the basis of the UCD ground, being near his Templeogue home. Bill also turned out for Leinster and Co Kildare in the League in the same season.

Des never returned consistently outstanding figures but did enough to be selected, as a substitute, for Ireland's first post war match v Scotland at Raeburn Place in July 1920. He was one of eight new caps, with only the Lambert brothers and paceman Basil Ward surviving from the pre war team. Six of the eight went on to have distinguished club careers, all playing again for Ireland, three, AP Kelly, Jacko Heaslip and professional footballer Louis Bookman, doing so outstandingly. Des and opening bat Herbert Rollins never played again, Rollins, thought to have had a glittering future, tragically dying the following year.

Des was the only frontline spinner, apart from Bob Lambert in the team, but was given just 13 overs. He took 0-48 and also made a "pair" at no 9, being bowled by Gerard Cole, a Scottish Rugby international who won Oxford Blues for Rugby and Golf, in the first innings and the Nottinghamshire born Arthur Sellers, like Crole a medium pacer, in the second. Lambert, with off spin, Wentworth Allen, medium pace, and Ward did most of the Irish bowling, with Bookman's left armers being preferred to Des's leg spin as backup. In future matches EL Kidd, an original selection for this game, provided a more formidable leg spin option, though he was not always available.

Des turned his attention to teaching, eventually becoming Headmaster of St Gerard's School in Bray, Co Wicklow. The School's website does not currently list cricket as being among the sports offered there. Des, himself, who appears to have lacked confidence as a cricketer, did not have very happy memories of his one match for Ireland. When this writer was working on the Association of Cricket Statisticians' "Irish Cricketers" booklet in 1980, Des was one of the players whose birth date and player descriptions were not known. He was unwilling to provide them, saying that he had been far below the standard of his colleagues, except in fielding, and had no right to appear in such a publication. Some details only emerged after his death.

Desmond James Murphy's obituary may be found in Wisden 1984.