This article is part of a series of feature interviews prepared for the Dublin Ladies’ Gaelic Football Association ahead of their All Ireland 2016 final with Cork.
Last year, Deirdre Murphy stepped away from the Dublin senior football team to head to Chicago on a J1, returning just in time to watch her teammates in the county side lose out 0-12 to 0-10 in the final against an all-conquering Cork.
It’s another Croke Park experience that has long formed part of Murphy’s footballing motivation, though, a moment that’s stuck with her throughout her playing career. As captain of Dublin’s All Ireland-winning under-16 side in 2010, Murphy and her side were invited to parade their trophy around the pitch at HQ ahead of the senior final.
After soaking up the applause, Murphy took her seat to watch Dublin win their first (and to date, their only) All Ireland ladies’ football title, hammering Tyrone 3-16 to 0-9 to end five years of Cork dominance. “I remember watching Denise Masterson lift the All Ireland trophy, and thinking ‘that’s going to be my one day,” Murphy said of the day.
Four years later, Murphy was to start on the bench as Dublin built a substantial lead over Cork in the senior final, only to throw it away in the dying stages. This year, having established herself as a starter following her return from that summer J1 in 2015, Murphy’s experience has become strangely cyclical: like Masterson’s team six years ago, she’s looking to help prevent the successive All Ireland wins of a dominant Cork side from extending to six.
Unsurprisingly, football has infiltrated every aspect of Murphy’s life over recent years. “Training is tough,” she admits. “But there are several players from that under-16 side still around me. I don’t think I’d have made it to where I am today if I didn’t have friends from St Brigid’s and from the age-group teams around me. Leah Caffrey, Siobhan Woods, Molly Lamb and Ciara Trant have moved up with me to the senior squad. When you’re out there pushing through the harder moments of training you need your friends around you. It makes all the difference.”
Murphy – a student who returned to college at DCU just a two weeks before the All Ireland final – also reports the sport having a strong impact on the rest of her life. “It helps with structure,” she explains. “It helps me have discipline in all aspects of life. When I’m stressed, the training is a great release, too. It’s something that’s always been there for me, something I can rely on.”
“My dad was always involved growing up,” she adds. “I’ve been around Dublin development squads since the under-11s. I think they’re really important, as they give lots of players a chance. It can be hard to be seen, and it also gives the players a chance to see what’s there for them, the professionalism there is there. The senior managers always showed an interest in the development squads. It’s very much ‘Team Dublin.’ It needs to be that kind of stepping stone”