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11th Feb 2023

Johnny Sexton pays tribute to Conor Murray after week you wouldn’t wish upon any man

Patrick McCarry

Garry Ringrose

“Amazing, really, that he could show up today, be so calm and perform the way he did.”

On Tuesday, Conor Murray and his entire family were given a terrible shock. That he was able to help Ireland to a huge victory, days later, says so much about not only him but the Murray clann.

Gerry Murray was out cycling in Patrickswell, earlier this week, when he collided with a truck and was flung from his bike. A Garda spokesperson confirmed, on Thursday, that Gerry Murray was taken to University Hospital Limerick for ‘treatment of serious injuries sustained as a result of this collision’. He is reported to have suffered a bad blow to the head, following the collision.

Around the same time, Conor Murray wad speaking with rugby reporters at the IRFU’s High Performance Centre, at the Sport Ireland Campus, and looking forward to a titanic struggle against France.

Murray had been drafted in to play in the win over Wales last Friday afternoon. The news was confirmed by the IRFU just over an hour before the game against Wales but Murray knew he would be in with some healthy notice (unhealthy if he was hoping for a good nights’ sleep).

He performed excellently, and with tempo, against Wales as Ireland got off to a flyer. Most of us would have understood if he missed out on today’s game, and all the prep from Wednesday on, but he got the blessing and support from his family and geared up for a crucial game. With Jamison Gibson-Park out, he reported for duty.

Conor MurrayConor Murray speaks to France head coach Fabien Galthié before the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and France at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile)

Johnny Sexton on Conor Murray

With France coming to town on a 14-game winning streak, Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton started a Test match together for the 79th time. They have a combined age of 70 and are not as sprightly as they used to be, but both played key roles in the 32-19 win over France.

It was not vintage Murray – he was fuming when Antoine Dupont denied him a first half try – but he was as steady for his teammates as they had been for him, all week.

Whereas fans may have chewed their last nail off when Murray and Sexton were both on the sidelines with 25 minutes still to play, Craig Casey and Ross Byrne played so well that Ireland are looking an even better Six Nations and World Cup prospect.

Following the game, Johnny Sexton paid tribute to the resilience, character and class of his old mucker. The Ireland captain said:

“Unbelievable really, isn’t it? It’s a mark of the character and the player. In my eyes, he’s always been a class operator… Amazing, really, that he could show up today, be so calm and perform the way he did.”

There were some touching moments after the final whistle in Dublin, too. Murray was mobbed by teammates along the sideline as Wayne Barnes peeped for full-time.

There were some hugs and comments from the defeated French players, well aware of what Murray is going through, then Fabien Galthié embraced him in a hug before heading for the ‘Away’ dressing room.

Even with the resounding Ireland victory, this has been a week for Conor Murray that you would not wish upon any soul. He is through it now and there is time off. He will get back home and do what the rest of his family and friends are doing – sit, pray, wait and hope.

WATCH RUGBYJOE’S SIX NATIONS CORNER

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