GAA Football

History-maker Murchan on being the wrong man in the right place

AIG Insurance, proud sponsor of Dublin GAA along with their charity partner Aoibheann’s Pink Tie and Dublin Senior Footballer Eoin Murchan have teamed up to send personalised video messages to children and their families battling cancer throughout Ireland. Aoibheann’s Pink Tie provides financial and practical support to children and their families battling cancer. To help support Aoibheann’s Pink Tie Text ‘Pink Tie’ to 50300 to donate €2. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

WHEN David Moran punched rather than caught that fateful throw-in last September, Eoin Murchan had no idea that he was 10 seconds from history. But his team-mates did.

With Dublin and Kerry tied as the second half began, Moran broke the ball down and it was the speedy late replacement on the other side who gobbled it up.

Once shuffled through the midfield, the whole of Croke Park opened up to him. Dublin, like most teams, had a pre-planned move to work a goal from the throw-in.

Murchan just wasn't supposed to be part of it.

“Yeah, we do have moves for a lot of different scenarios in games. I was aware of one, but I'm not sure whether that was it or whether it was a part of it. I certainly wasn't supposed to be a part of it,” he said yesterday, speaking on a conference call to promote Dublin GAA's partnership with children's cancer charity, Aoibheann's Pink Tie.

“But I suppose guys have an understanding from when someone does get the ball as to where they should go or shouldn't go and they were able to execute that. There was a move but it definitely didn't involve me.

“I had noticed in the first half that I'd found myself in a lot of space, consistently in acres and acres of space. As we were coming out of the tunnel I had a word with Jonny [Cooper] and just said, 'Look, at some point I'm going to have a go'.

“To be honest I wasn't expecting it to happen. I kind of got dragged in towards the centre and was just lucky enough that so many things went right and so many went wrong in terms of both our midfielders ran into each other essentially which caused the ball to be knocked down in front of me.

“While there may have been a set move there, I'm not quite sure that if we had of done that set-move things would have worked out the same.”

Just like that, his name became an inscription in the histories of Gaelic football. While in true Dublin style he played down the goal's significance, his was the score that broke Dublin free of Kerry's chains.

The legality of how he gobbled up the ground, taking 11 steps as Moran tried to prevent his progress, hardly bothers him too much.

“No, never, I've never gone back to count it,” he says when asked if he'd counted his own steps.

“I do know there's a bit of debate around it. To be honest, if you put yourself in the position of that referee, it's going to be hard to know what's going on at all, in fairness.”

It was his third All-Ireland title, albeit the first of them in 2017 saw him sitting in the stand as part of the stats team for the win over Mayo after he didn't make the matchday squad.

His first national title was actually an U19 All-Ireland basketball title at school.

Murchan was a fan of trialling himself in as many sports as he could when he was younger, listing rugby, basketball, tennis, swimming, hurling and athletics as those he'd taken part in at some level.

“I just find it strange at the moment the way people pick and choose sports because I've found myself that I've got lots of benefit from those sports.”

He once listed his sporting idol as LeBron James and amid the lockdown, it's no surprise that he joined the millions watching The Last Dance documentary on the Chicago Bulls.

Michael Jordan's leadership style has generated thousands upon thousands of column inches, and appears in complete contrast to the way top-level teams conduct their internal affairs two-and-a-half decades on.

“I've been absolutely gripped by it,” said Murchan.

“I'm not sure if that style of leadership works in some situations and doesn't in some others. We're very much a player-led group, we hold each other to account as best we can.

“I'm not sure would it work to be honest. I'm not sure it would work in any sort of team sport anyway.

“It works in basketball, it's a much smaller team and personalities can dominate and there is one player who can really, really make all the difference in that situation. In basketball one player can totally change the fortunes of a team for the year.

“To go through a Championship so having one player who dominates in such a way I'm not sure would be feasible in Gaelic and I'm not sure it's what we would want to be honest.

“We feel our style of leadership works.”

The break from football has also allowed him to do something that he hadn't previously been able to – give blood.

“It's something my dad has been doing for years and my brother started doing it. With football, I've never really been able to do.

“Giving away a portion of blood is not something that is really conducive to performing at a high level at football. With playing and training so regularly, it was something I wasn't able to do.

“With the break, I thought it was something nice to do and Brian Fenton happen to bring it back into my head and the two of us went along and did it but it wasn't anything major, to be honest.

“It was something very small and they just put it out there to try and get more people to come. It was just intended as something for ourselves.”

A Na Fianna clubmate of new manager Dessie Farrell, Murchan knows his managerial qualities better than most, having played under him at both club and county U21 level, when they won an All-Ireland together.

They'd had a mixed start to the National League and have, like everyone else, had their momentum broken now for three months.

“He knows how we operate so it is just about giving it that little bit of time to settle in and I think we were starting to get to that place when it all stopped.

“It wasn't hugely different. He had a couple of different viewpoints and things he did differently but I think it would have been the same with any manager. I think it would have been the same with any manager.

“No one is going to come in and turn the house upside down. It is a gradual process of implementing new things and getting to know each other as we go and getting to see what works and what doesn't.

“But all the players I know are very happy and I assume management were as will with how the integration was going.”

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