"U14, didn't make the team, don't know if he made the panel. U16 same again. He just focused on the goals..." 5 months ago

"U14, didn't make the team, don't know if he made the panel. U16 same again. He just focused on the goals..."

As you watched Eoin Murphy making the stops, sweeping the breaks and saving the cats in one of the great All-Ireland semi-final performances, it wasn't long after the amazement when the mind turned back to a sunny Saturday in late May.

Kilkenny had just annihilated Wexford in a National League game that, to both sides, meant little and it was as you stood there on the Nowlan Park pitch, huddled around a defiant Davy Fitzgerald, humming under the scorching sun, when you were stopped you in your tracks by the sight breezing past.

Advertisement

Moments earlier, as some familiar, more unknown and most of all subs ran shuttles up and down the pitch, you didn't really take much notice because, well that's the way in an inter-county set-up these days - if you don't play you train and you train snappy not to be hanging around all evening. Davy was talking sense but after one more glance over the shoulder, he was barely being listened to anymore because, there in the middle of them, head bobbing, legs pumping and chest gagging was Eoin Murphy.

You stopped to think. He could have been anywhere else. Could have been on the road home, could have been eating the dinner or putting the feet up but after another flawless 70 minute show, here he is, surrounded by subs, putting in the hard yards that, obviously, have made him the brilliant, revolutionary goalkeeper that he is.

It was on Monday's GAA Hour Hurling Show when Paul Murphy told the story of his former team-mate and fellow county-man's journey, to becoming the best goalkeeper he's ever seen.

"It's an incredible story and it's one that you'd tell any young lad. Eoin Murphy plays outfield for Glenmore. He's centre forward, midfield, he's on the frees. But Eoin, hopefully he'll forgive me for saying this, u14 Tony Forristal, didn't make the team and I don't know if he made the panel.

"U16, same again, didn't make the team, didn't make the panel. Now he just missed it. He was two or three years younger than me but there were great players going for the same positions and he didn't get the look-in," began the Danesfort man.

Advertisement

"I think it was around then when he made a conscious decision 'do you know what, I could make a good stab of going in goal here and maybe I could get on the team.'  It came to minor and while he was still out the field for his club, he won the minor All-Ireland in the goal in 2008. He just focused on the goal and said this is what I'm going to do."

As a wing forward, Murphy captained Waterford IT to Fitzgibbon glory in 2014. As a goalkeeper, he prowls behind the Kilkenny back-line in 2021, on-alert and with all the pent-up energy of a coiled spring, ready to pounce on any ball that comes near him. It's almost as if Kilkenny have 15 outfielders. Maybe that's the idea.

"He was sub keeper to David Herity for a while and when I saw him coming into the senior panel first, he'd be the first man out on the pitch at every training session. He'd be putting pressure on Herity saying 'we should be doing this, should be doing that, should be doing these drills.'

"He'd be coming up with creative ideas for different scenarios. When we were down on end doing drills, you'd look up at Murphy and Herity up the other and literally, it was one of them on one side taking a shot, the other would save it, sprint to the other side and do the same thing again.

"It was back and forth. It was amazing and he brought this thing to it that was like 'how hard can we work?' His professionalism is, was and always has been unbelievable."

Advertisement

And that's why he's the best.