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09th Nov 2023

“The whole parish will be tuning in” – From Leinster quarter final to Ireland’s Fittest Family for Rangers’ Murphy

Niall McIntyre

Donagh Murphy will be top of the right on Sunday afternoon, corner forward in Netwatch Cullen Park, and he’s right in the middle of it on Sunday night.

Murphy, 19, is a key man on the Mount Leinster Rangers team who are hoping to pull off something of a shock in the Leinster club hurling quarter final against Kilkenny champs O’Loughlin Gaels.

All Borris eyes will then turn to RTÉ One, for a 6.30 throw-in, with the well-known Murphys being shown on Ireland’s Fittest Family.

The filming took place during the summer, as Mount Leinster Rangers chairman John Coleman tells us, and as far as everyone in Borris is concerned, it was only a matter of time before this ultra-fit family took part.

“The whole parish will be tuning into that,” Coleman tells SportsJOE.

“And if we could pull off some sort of a shock in the hurling on Sunday, it would make it all the better,” he says.

Murphy himself is no stranger to national competition, having won an All-Ireland schools’ title with St Kieran’s College back in March.

He became one of the first Mount Leinster players to attend the famed Kilkenny hurling nursery, when he moved there after his junior cert, and it was all worthwhile on All-Ireland final day, when he lit up Croke Park with an unbelievable goal as Kieran’s defeated Pres Athenry.

“98% of our lads would go to school in Borris so Donagh would have been one of the first to go to St Kieran’s,” says Coleman.

“Donagh was in Borris until he had his junior cert done and I’m sure the hurling would have been part of the move for him,” he added.

Along with his brothers Ruairi and Fionn, and mother Aoibheann, the Murphys travelled to a site near Kilbeggan this summer, where they competed in Ireland’s Fittest Family under the tutelage of their coach Nina Carberry.

“Donagh was probably juggling it with his county hurling commitments with Carlow at the time, but everything worked out anyway,” says Coleman.

“They’re good lads, they’re committed and fit and they love their hurling. That’s all you want.

“Donagh is a hugely talented individual that’s been mapped out for a while in that sense. And there’s another one coming behind him too,” he adds.

“I’d know the Murphys for years. They’re into their swimming, canoeing, running. They’re sports-mad, talented and just mad into their fitness.”

Murphy, who is known for his speed and skill, spearheads a talented group of youngsters who have completely re-invigorated the Mount Leinster Rangers senior hurling team.

“The juvenile section is pretty strong,” says Coleman.

“There’s been huge work put in, between coaching and the facilities.

“And you can see that in this team, in the last two years about eight players have made their championship debuts.

“Four or five are on the team on Sunday and that would be good going.

“The likes of Donagh, Evan Kealy and Tim Brennan and more, they have revitalised the team and that’s the lifeblood of any team.”

Mount Leinster Rangers, who are managed by Dubliner Paul O’Brien, have had a long lay-off since beating St Mullins in the Carlow SHC final in early August. But as a dual senior club, football commitments bridged the gap, as did some challenge games in recent weeks.

“We pride ourselves on being a dual club,” says Coleman.

“We were struggling a bit in football at the turn of the century, with the hurling taking off.

“But we’ve always said we’re absolutely going to be a football and hurling club.

“We’ve been to a few football semi-finals, and hopefully in the distant future, we will be looking to win a football title do you know, rather than focusing solely on the hurling.”

The legacy of the Rangers’ incredible Leinster triumph in 2013 is still felt on the team too, with captain Diarmuid Byrne one of the survivors from that day as are Richard and Paul Coady and goalkeeper Frank Foley, amongst others.

Coleman says that being drawn against the Kilkenny champions has punctured the excitement in some ways, but acknowledges that this could also work in the team’s favour.

“The flags haven’t come down since the county final.

“Other than that, I suppose, when you’re meeting the Kilkenny champions in the first round, it sobers people up a small bit.

“So people mightn’t be giving us much of a chance in one sense, and that takes the giddiness out of it, which could work to our advantage as well.”

“Our team hit their pinnacle in 2013, that gave them a feel for it. That definitely gave us all belief, and that will stand to us on Sunday.”

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