Michael Murphy - managerial mastermind of World Cup success
Michael Murphy is still basking in the glow of World Cup glory. “Absolutely magnificent!” says Michael when asked how it feels. “As you know over the years I have been involved in the backroom and on the organisational side. This time it was great being out front and involved with a great group of lads.”
We were intrigued as to how a three-man team ended up with two managers. “It was a Presidential decision and I was honoured to be asked,” says Michael of PPUI President Mervyn Cooney’s inspired choice.
FIPPA Board member Michael Murphy has long specialised in adventurous Pitch and Putt trips! “Going back over the years of my association with the PPUI and EPPA/FIPPA, things have not always gone to plan and this was no different. We agreed a time to meet at Dublin Airport and uploaded all the gear into the Golf Bag and the one large case (the case was well overweight). We boarded the aeroplane and then we had to sit for an hour because of the French air traffic control strike. We arrived at Barcelona and after a while collected the cars and headed to Andorra. We arrived in La Massana where we were booked into the Magic Hotel, Mark (Keohane, Michael’s co-manager) and his crew reached the Hotel and phoned to see where we were. We had arrived at a Magic Hotel only to find out it was the wrong one. However, we did find the correct one and phoned Mark to see where he was, he said he was up in the Car Park. We were in the underground Car Park; they had discovered the third Magic Hotel! The whole party did eventually meet up again!”
Overall though, things went well for Michael and the team over the weekend. “From the moment we met in the airport there was a real sense of comradeship. We were on a mission, a team. Mark, Eamon, John Ross, John Walsh, Weeshie Murphy, Ryan Walsh and myself just gelled. This continued for the week, we were all there for each other, we encouraged each other, we slagged each other and got on with the job we were there to do. The team practiced hard and we had our chats about tactics.”
There was one logistical headache. “The biggest let down for me and the team was polo shirts not being delivered. We had ordered twenty Foot Joy shirts from Halpenny Golf and they were to be delivered on the Friday prior to departure for Andorra. I was contacted in the afternoon by Halpenny to say the shirts had been sent back to the UK due to a silly oversight about a Post Office number. They said they would get them shipped to Andorra and arrive by Tuesday/Wednesday (panic). I made several phone calls and paid a visit to McGuirks in Blanchardstown but to no avail. Thank God for Dunnes Stores, they had a selection of Polo Shirts with all the sizes required except they did not have a green one available. The next port of call was a logo shop in Blanchardstown Centre (Grand Central). They said they could do the logo and have them ready for Monday, I had to get the go ahead from the powers that be. That done, I e-mailed the PPUI logo to the shop and arrived at 9.31 on Saturday Morning (he had just opened and had the PPUI logo on his screen), he said he would have them ready on Sunday afternoon. I went back across to Kilnamanagh and was watching the Euros when my phone rang, “Hi Mr. Murphy, Grand Central here” (the machine is broken down I thought) “I have your Polo shirts ready” I had collected them in 15 minutes. The team had them the next morning and we were all set to go. Still no polos from Halpenny.”
Michael relished the Andorra environment. “The course is fantastic, the layout around the holiday park, the climbs, the hillside walks between greens and tee boxes, the breath-taking scenery and the big greens. The front nine appeared to be that bit easier that the back nine. I loved the course and as can be seem from some of the photos I took I loved the surrounding countryside. Amazing.”
Michael’s generous assessment of Ireland’s nearest protagonists? “As the current European champions they were very determined that they were going to add the World title to their list of victories. They came very well prepared and had a nice band of supporters with them. The one thing I have noticed over the years with the Catalans is that they have a fierce belief in their ability and their never say die attitude. This held true to the very end of this great match with Marc Lloret doing his very best to hole that very long putt on the last hole. One would be very foolish to write the Catalans off at any stage.”
In Michael’s view determination and preparation were the principal factors that clinched the win for Ireland. “We set out on a mission and we were not going to be distracted, each person had their bit to do, each day we prepared for the task ahead whether it was for practice, the Opening Ceremony, the Strokeplay qualifying or a particular match the homework was done."
It appears that Ireland’s 2016 World Cup team management and supporters will have a bond for life. “Every one of the Irish players deserves great credit for the way they applied themselves to the different tasks, John John for the player that he is, JR for the magnificence displayed in the Strokeplay qualifying and Captain Eamon for his own never say die attitude in the final match. A fantastic group of lads and a massive thank you to Weeshie Murphy and Ryan Walsh for your support.”
Does Michael Murphy’s managerial style differ to Mark Keohane’s? “There is not a lot of difference between our approaches. We both discussed everything with the players, we chatted between ourselves and there were never any disagreements (which is unusual for me!),” laughs Michael.
Mark Keohane pays tribute to PPUI’s General Secretary as follows: “Michael’s preparations were excellent and his wit and sense of humour boundless!” What would Michael say about Mark? “Mark was a great character to be around, he would go the extra mile (and he did in the car!), no task was too big for him, he is a real gent and he is a gem to work with.”