Profile of FIPPA President Michael Murphy
Michael Murphy was elected National Secretary of the Pitch and Putt Union of Ireland in Killarney's Gleneagle Hotel on Saturday 8 December 2001. The then factory manager from Dublin's Tallaght defeated Billy Bell of Ryston in Newbridge in a straight vote to succeed the legendary Peg Smith, 77 votes to 37.
Michael first started playing Pitch & Putt back in 1967 on commercial courses like Ferndale and the Cuckoo’s Nest. He made the switch to registered Pitch and Putt and Old County in Crumlin in 1976.
In a career, which saw him represent Old County in all grades of the Dublin County Leagues and win the 1999 Dublin Junior Matchplay championship at C.Y.M.C./L.C., Michael's lowest handicap was 1. He looks back fondly on 1980 when he defeated Irish international Anthony Malone in the final Dublin qualifying round at Old County to reach the National Matchplay finals at Navan. Other on-course achievements were Club Championships and being the first Senior to win the Captains Prize in Old County. His lowest round is a 42!
Club administrative experience was gained as President, Treasurer (three different stints!) and Club Captain. He was centrally involved with a core group that saved Old County from extinction in a landmark 1990s High Court case regarding tenancy.
In 1999, after many years as Old County's delegate to Dublin County Board meetings, he was elected Vice President of Leinster Council.at that body's annual gathering in Navan. After two years as Provincial Vice President, Michael surrendered the position to concentrate on his campaign to become National Secretary. His President during those two years, Sean Breen, is on record that Michael made a huge contribution. When pressed as to what he feels his principal offering was, Michael is typically modest. "That's a hard question. I would say that during my two years on the Leinster Council the Officers had a great working relationship and that Teamwork was the order of the day - I hope I contributed to that."
Michael's wife and sons were also involved in Pitch and Putt. " Joan played and was Treasurer of Old County and Dublin County Board. Colin played, Neil and Paul could play but Neil was more into Golf and Paul’s major interest was playing music." Michael and Joan qualified in the past for the finals of the National Mixed Foursomes.
Michael's non Pitch and Putt interests revolve around soccer. He's a self-confessed "Mega Bohemian FC fan" and his sporting heroes are former stars of his favourite English side, Manchester City - Colin Bell and Francis Lee.
“I think we have to look at the bigger picture and try to encourage the thousands who play outside organised Pitch and Putt to affiliate. Pitch and Putt is still big out there. We also have to take care of our new members and must encourage them to participate. Clubs should organise special functions and Coaching Sessions for them.
"On the International front I feel the foundations are well and truly sown with the formation of EPPA and FIPPA and also the inclusion of Pitch & Putt in the 2003 Special Olympics. Coaching is one of the most important aspects of any sport and Clubs should do more to encourage more members to participate. Website and social media are other essential parst of the world we live in today."
Michael summarises his hopes and aspirations for his term of Office thus. "To continue where Victor left off and to offer my own inter personal skills."
Michael was a winning World Cup manager of the Irish team that won the 2016 World Cup in Andorra. “Absolutely magnificent!” says Michael when asked how it felt. 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.”
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!”
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.”
Michael relished the Andorra environment. “The course (Xixerella) 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 and I loved the surrounding countryside. Amazing.”
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 and Michael also dovetailed as successful managers of Ireland’s 2018 European Team championship squad at Urduna. Current Irish President Keohane pays tribute to Michael (who is now a member of 2012 World Cup host club Royal Meath) as follows: “Michael’s preparations were excellent and his wit and sense of humour boundless!”
A Board Member of EPPA and FIPPA since 2006, Michael acted as Treasurer for many years before his accession to the Presidency at the 2022 General Assembly in Tullamore..