Danny Murphy was 'a man who got things done' says Pete McGrath
“A MAN who got things done” – that is how Pete McGrath will remember his friend and colleague, with the former Down boss hailing the “pivotal” role Danny Murphy played in the county’s two All-Ireland successes during the 1990s.
Danny Murphy was serving his first year as county board chairman in 1991 when McGrath’s men embarked on their successful bid to bring Sam Maguire back to Down for the first time since 1968.
And even though the Burren man was out of office by the time 1994 came around, McGrath was so keen for Murphy to be involved with the Down team that he asked him to be a selector on their journey back to the promised land.
Amid all the hysteria, particularly in 1991, McGrath recalls a cool customer who helped keep the county in check.
“He played a pivotal role in what the team achieved that year, particularly as the campaign went on,” said the Rostrevor man.
“Danny Murphy had to control the county and ensure the club fixtures were not going to interfere with the potential progress of the team. After winning the All-Ireland semi-final, there was a five week gap until the final and the whole county had to be managed.
“The players had to be protected and decisions had to be made at an executive level - Danny Murphy controlled the whole situation and made sure the decisions made were the right ones.
“It meant the team management had nothing to do except manage the team and the players had nothing to do except play. His contribution and the way he got things done was pivotal to the eventual success of the team in September 1991.”
It may seem unusual for an administrator to go on and play such an important role on the sideline but, as McGrath says, Murphy was able to wear both hats comfortably.
“He’s a man whose view on football and footballers I always would have respected,” continued McGrath, who said he will have Danny Murphy in his thoughts when he leads Ulster into inter-provincial battle with Munster on Saturday.
“That’s testimony to the kind of man Danny was. He played football, played hurling, was involved with Down team management in the 1980s as a selector when James McCartan snr was manager, so it wasn’t as if we were plucking him from out of the blue.
“He was one of those rare administrators who understood not only the inner workings of the GAA and how things had to be handled, he also understood the mind of players and managers.”
And when it came to making things happening, Danny Murphy was someone you always wanted to have in your corner.
“Danny was a man of action, a man who got things done.
“He was a man who passionately believed in what the GAA could do and was doing for the people of Ireland, for society as a whole - I think that’s what drove Danny on.
“He could see the bigger picture in terms of what the GAA was doing for the island of Ireland and that’s what motivated him – a sense of service to others.
“He’s just someone who has touched so many people across county Down, but also across the province and the whole country.”