Diarmuid Murphy brings new tactics and strategy to Kerry post

Decorated Kingdom shot-stopper believes goalkeeping now at different level

  Kerry selector Diarmuid Murphy and manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice (right). Photograph: Ryan Byrne / Inpho

Kerry selector Diarmuid Murphy and manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice (right). Photograph: Ryan Byrne / Inpho


The last thing Diarmuid Murphy needs reminding of is that for all he achieved during his reign as Kerry goalkeeper – four All-Irelands, three All Stars, etc – he never scored a point. At least not one he can readily recall.

Now, in the five years since Murphy’s retirement, All Star goalkeepers are at least partly decided on the number of points they score during the championship – whether they be long-range frees, or 45s: otherwise it’s the tactics or strategy of their kick-outs that are deemed most important.

Back in Murphy’s day, it was simply about stopping shots. His former team mate Darragh Ó Sé also recently reminded him of that by suggesting Kerry never had any tactics or strategy when it came to Murphy’s kicks outs, other them him booting them out the field, leaving Ó Sé and company to take care of the rest.

How things have changed. Since his retirement at the end of 2009, Murphy has come back in the Kerry management, and now acts as a selector under manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice.

Goalkeeping coach

Part of his job is to act as goalkeeping coach, which these days means ensuring Kerry goalkeepers Brian Kelly and Brendan Kelly bring both tactics and strategy to the kick- outs, and also know how to kick a long-range point, if need be.

“I certainly think the amount of preparation work that goes into goalkeeping now is at a different level altogether, compared to where it was maybe eight or nine years ago .

“I think Dublin have taken it on to another level with the way Stephen Cluxton is playing and the fact they were probably the first county to have a coach specifically assigned to the goalkeepers,” says Murphy.

“You can see the results with what they are doing with him, because they have been the exceptional team over the last number of years.

“So there is a lot more time put into goalkeeping now, a lot more thought put in, and that can only be a good thing.

“The goalkeepers themselves love it, having specific work like that, and it’s very important for them to do that separately from the rest of the group.”

Murphy, however, hasn’t yet thrown out all of the old with the new, and still values the importance of good shot-stopping and old-school fielding.

“The number one job inside in the goal is keep the ball out of the goal,” he says.

“Of course restarts now are huge. It’s much easier now to get a gameplan going, and open up the whole pitch, if a goalkeeper is a good enough kicker. The tee has made a big difference too.

Good contest

“But there are still balls put up in the air, to be won. It’s may be changed a little over the last few years, but there will still be a good contest out there, around midfield. On Sunday, you’ll have guys like Aidan O’Shea, Seamus O’Shea, Anthony Maher, David Moran, Johnny Buckley, Bryan Sheehan, There will still be a certain amount of ball put out amongst those lads.”

As for Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final, Murphy accepts it is slightly strange to be going in as underdogs against Mayo, especially given Kerry’s near total dominance in recent years.

“I actually pulled up a couple of papers there, from before the 2004 final, and it was 50-50. The perception was after that we won quite easy; we were probably marginally favourites going into it, but look to be honest the game back in those days – I don’t think have any relevance really. It’s 10 years ago and in football terms that’s a lifetime.”

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