Ryan Byrne/INPHO
fresh start

From being told she'd never play football again to getting the buzz back with Wexford Youths

Kylie Murphy suffered a back injury that threatened her career.

THERE WAS A time when Kylie Murphy’s football career was in danger of coming to a premature end.

At 23, she suffered a back injury during a warm-up before a game against Peamount, in which a slipped disc sent shots of pain down her leg.

Surgeons and doctors warned her that the injury was threatening her career but she was defiant that this was not the end.

Panic about the impending tragedy never set in. Or at least, she never allowed it too.

“Somebody has to do something to be able to let me go back,” was her mantra at the time.

Kylie Murphy with Orlagh Nolan Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Murphy was forced to take a year out and undergo surgery, but through a course of rehab, along with Pilates sessions five days a week, Murphy gradually made a full return to the game.

Even now, the 28-year-old’s recovery continues to marvel those at Wexford Youths.

“I sat down with our club doctor at the start of last year when we were getting our medicals done.” Murphy told The42 at the recent launch of the 2017 Continental Tyres Women’s National League (WNL).

He said to me, “Kylie I really never thought you’d play again, I really didn’t, I thought that was it.” I worked hard on my Pilates and I was up and down to Wexford five days a week. I was out of work at the time, but Wexford were looking after me.”

In her search for employment, Murphy eventually found work in carpentry. What started out as a request for just a few hours working in her father’s shed, quickly evolved into a love affair with the trade.

Kylie Murphy of Wexford with Jamie Finn of Shels

“I went out and started sanding until my arms nearly fell off. And it just went from there, I absolutely loved it. I was actually saying to him recently, “how did I not start doing this years ago?”"

“I absolutely love it, it doesn’t even feel like work. I work with my Dad and my two brothers. We’re all there and it’s a great laugh.”

In addition to having a job which keeps her in close contact with her family, it also allows her to tailor the hours around her commitments with Wexford Youths.

“If I need to make up hours, I can do it over the weekend or do it in the evenings. I’m very lucky in that way. It keeps me fit as well. I nearly feel like I have a training session done before I go training.

With her work life looking more settled, things on the pitch began to improve as well, as Murphy made her return from injury.

She later went on to captain the Wexford Youths to their second consecutive National League, the WFAI Cup and WNL Shield during the 2015/2016 season.

Kylie Murphy lifts the FAI Continental Tyres Women’s Cup Kylie Murphy lifts the FAI Continental Tyres Women’s Cup in 2015. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Last year however, witnessed the emergence of Shelbourne, who arrested the league and cup honours, and humiliated an injury afflicted Wexford Youths side in the cup final, with a 5-0 hammering.

Murphy concedes that while she’s keen to look forward to the new season, the sting of those losses still linger.

“As much as I try to put it to the back of my mind, it’s still there.”

Continental Tyres Women's National League Launch Kylie Murphy at the Continental Tyres Women's National League Launch last week. Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

“To go from what we done the year before to coming fourth (in the league) and being bet 5-0 on tele is not anything anybody wants to be talking about. But look, it is what it is.”

“It’s a case of, maybe empowering it now and making sure it doesn’t happen again and we do one better and at least this year maybe compete for a league.

Murphy was forced to watch that final from the sidelines due to suspension. She recalls the helplessness she felt, as her teammates succumbed to Shelbourne’s superiority.

It was horrendous and it’s something that I don’t think that I’ll ever get over. It’s something that I have to live with, but, just not being able to go out and even help the girls. Taking out the fact that we did get bet, but not being able to be there to try and help them broke my heart.”

2017 is shaping up to be the season of renewal for Wexford Youths, and according to Murphy, “the buzz is back.”

Former Wexford Youths player Laura Heffernan has been promoted from assistant manager to head coach and Murphy is impressed with what she has seen so far.

“Albeit it’s new and you’re looking at her in a managerial role, she’s there, she has been there. She knows everyone inside out. She knows what it takes to bring us to the top because she was under Will Doyle the year we won everything.”

Leanne Kiernan scores the second goal of the game Shelbourne 's Leanne Kiernan scoring her second goal against Wexford Youths in the 2016 WFAI Cup Final. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

She added: ”She’s doing a really good job so far and she’s got a couple of good guys in around her as well and they’re great coaches. It’s great to have them around. The buzz is back. Last year it was just different, but the buzz is back now.”

While Wexford Youths were previously the team with a target on their back, Shelbourne are the side to beat as the WNL kicks-off this weekend, with Wexford Youths getting a bye for the first round.

Murphy however, still believes that silverware is possible for her club this season.

“Well obviously the aim is a trophy, or trophies. The aim is always to win. At the moment, we’ll always be happier finishing that step ahead. Second or third (in the table) maybe. First preferably for me.”

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