David Murphy came through some of the toughest tests of his career to become the number one bowler in the country, again. He spoke to GER McCARTHY
THE 2018 campaign was when David Murphy managed to overcome the cream of Munster bowling and secure an All-Ireland showdown with his great rival Thomas Mackle.
Winning the coveted title on the Grenagh roads was special; a triumph the champion was delighted to share with his family and especially his father.
Don Murphy has played a significant role in helping his son develop into one of the country’s best road bowlers. The sport is a clearly a tradition when it comes to Murphy’s extended family and Don has proven a positive influence since his son was old enough to first travel the roads with his father and uncles.
‘Watching my Dad bowl with my uncles is one of my earliest memories and that’s where it all started for me,’ he says.
‘God, I had no choice really but to get involved with bowling. My uncles, Jerry, Pat and my Dad were hugely important when it came to introducing me to bowling in the first place. Without my Dad’s influence, I probably would never have started it to be honest.
‘Dad encouraged all of us to go out and try it. My uncle Martin runs the local road in Ballinacurra and my father helps him keep that going, they run that together. We would have grown up watching all the excitement of scores. I can’t even remember the first time I threw a shot to be honest with you. Bowling was just always there, every day and it just became second nature like reading a book.
‘In fairness to Dad, he’d rarely if ever criticise you for making a mistake. I’d be my own worst enemy in that regard. Dad wouldn’t say much unless it was really bad and then he might let you know alright. Usually, I’m the one with something to say and nobody else gets a chance to say anything themselves!’
Working as a joiner for O’Riordan’s Joinery, Cork, and residing in Crossbarry with wife Catherine and children Joshua (14) and Sophie (10), the 35-year-old has endured plenty of sporting highs and lows over the past twelve months.
Nowadays, it takes a huge amount of time and effort to stay at the top of the rankings in both Cork and Munster. A hip flexor injury temporarily curtailed Murphy’s progress during the past year but the Crossbarry man recovered and attends strength and conditioning classes to keep on top of his fitness.
‘I don’t practice that often but have been going to strength and conditioning classes over the last few months,’ Murphy admits.
‘I suffered a hip flexor injury that lasted nearly all of last year so I had no choice but to start doing more mobility work. Going to the strength and conditioning classes helped build the strength back up in my leg.
‘I would have played football and hurling up to the age of 21 and then soccer. I gave up soccer about eight or nine years ago to concentrate fully on the bowling but have always been someone who tries to stay as fit as I can. Nowadays, bowlers are fitter than they ever were. You only have to look at the records that are being broken and set out on the roads all the time now.’
His fitness improving as the year wore on, Murphy was pushed to the pin of his collar by James O’Donovan in the Munster semi-finals before claiming the provincial title at Martin McDonagh’s expense. Those successes copper fastened an eagerly-anticipated All-Ireland showdown with Thomas Mackle.
‘I bowled Martin McDonagh in Grenagh in the Munster final after just about getting over James O’Donovan in the semi-finals,’ Murphy explained.
‘That was shot for shot all the ways until he got a bad second-last and last before I finished it. That meant I qualified for the All-Ireland final against the Ulster champion Thomas Mackle. The All-Ireland was also held in Grenagh which gave me a bit of an advantage after winning the Munster on the same roads. You might as well have some bit of an advantage when you are hosting the All-Ireland at home!
‘Thomas came up through the ranks over the last four or five years so it was always going to be a very tough score for me. He is never very far away from the finals of any tournament that he enters. I suppose that is a good thing for me in that Thomas is something of a rival but that can only help to bring the best out of you. I was delighted to win the All-Ireland.’
David Murphy’s 2018 bowling assignments are not yet complete but the All-Ireland champion is already looking ahead to next year and potential challengers to his title.
‘To finish off the year, I’ll be taking part in an important RNLI fundraiser down in Castletownbere on December 28th,’ Murphy stated.
‘That’s an annual road bowling event to raise money for the RNLI and once that’s done I’ll be planning 2019. Right now, the aim is to try and get back to the Munster and All-Ireland finals again I suppose, if I can.
‘As for rivals, Jesus, there are about five serious challengers when you have the likes of Martin Coppinger, James O’Donovan, Arthur McDonagh and my brother Aidan, there’s a good number of them around. Bowling is seriously competitive right now. I just have to do my best to stay up there with them for as long as I can.
‘On the national scene, I’ve not doubt I could run into Mr Mackle once again. As for 2019, I would like to win back the King of the Roads title again as I haven’t won that title since 2012 after winning four up to then.’