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Winning Fitzgibbon Cup with Davy Fitz up there with All-Ireland glory, says ex-Cork star

Kieran ‘Fraggy’ Murphy was made captain by the Clare boss at LIT.

College man: Leesider Kieran Murphy won two Fitzgibbon titles under Davy Fitz.
College man: Leesider Kieran Murphy won two Fitzgibbon titles under Davy Fitz.
Image: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

FORMER Cork captain Kieran Murphy has revealed that leading Limerick IT to Fitzgibbon Cup glory in 2007, when Davy Fitzgerald was in charge, ranks right up there with his finest hurling achievements.

Coming from a man who won two All-Ireland senior medals with Cork, and county championships at club level in the colours of Sarsfields, that’s quite a statement.

Murphy was one of a host of intercounty stars who won the biggest prize in third-level colleges hurling under the tutelage of Fitzgerald, an emerging young coach at the time.

LIT emerged from nowhere to become a serious force under the guidance of Fitzgerald, who would mastermind Fitzgibbon Cup successes in 2005 and 2007.

Murphy featured on both teams and was so highly-regarded by current Clare boss Fitzgerald that he made him captain in 2007.

Playing at midfield alongside Jonathan Clancy, Murphy skippered a team that also contained Galway superstar Joe Canning, Kilkenny defender Jackie Tyrrell, and Tipp pair Conor O’Mahony and Shane McGrath.

Galway’s James Skehill, Iarla Tannian and Aonghus Callanan were other well-known players on the victorious LIT team that beat NUI Galway by 2-15 to 0-13.

Murphy, a two-time All-Ireland SHC medallist with Cork, recalled: “I was there for three years, from 2005-07. I could only play for two years — I did an extra year’s work placement. I was lucky enough that in the two years I played, we won.

“When you looked at the team that was there, it was littered with intercounty stars like Tyrrell, Canning, Conor O’Mahony, Shane McGrath.

“It was right up there with winning the All-Ireland and county titles because it’s such a prestigious competition. You’re hellbent on winning it when you’re in college.”

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Clare manager, Davy Fitzgerald. Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

Early morning training sessions became the norm as Fitzgerald drove Limerick IT forward in the quest for success. Alongside him, Fitzgerald had Jimmy Browne, Seoirse Bulfin and Eddie O’Sullivan in his backroom team.

Browne and Bulfin are now working in the Clare set-up and O’Sullivan is a GAA officer at Limerick IT, where Fitzgerald is still Fitzgibbon Cup team manager and Ambassador of Hurling.

For Murphy, being appointed captain for the successful 2007 campaign was a tonic. Fitzgerald broke the news to Murphy as he was still licking his wounds following Cork’s defeat to Kilkenny in the 2006 All-Ireland final.

Murphy remembers: “It was the winter after losing that final. I was living up in the college that year too. You’d gather so many great friends and that was a big thing. It was a year, sporting and academically, that I’ll never forget.

“Davy called me into a meeting, around November/December time.

“Jimmy, Seoirse and Eddie where there too. He (Fitzgerald) just said, look, we’d like you to be captain. We see you as someone who can help the team. He explained his reasons for it. I was surprised and shocked. I didn’t know why they were calling me in.

“There were so many other big names paying in the team but it was a huge honour when he did ask me.”

One of Fitzgerald’s main strengths, according to Murphy, is his “attention to detail.”

The 1995 and 1997 All-Ireland winning goalkeeper commanded respect too, as a number of household names agreed to train relentlessly.

Murphy says: “It was just a case of do it. When he was manager, everyone bought into it. It suited fellas for going to college after, too.

“Some of the hardest training we ever did was at six o’clock in the morning. But you’d feel great coming away from it and it helped to build team spirit. We had a lot of hurling sessions at that hour. We might not have trained for very long but it was short and sharp – high quality stuff.”

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