Strong family ties on Leeside made playing for Cork City an easy transition for London-born Danny Murphy. The bond grew so firm that the left-back found himself signing for the Rebel Army twice more during his illustrious career.
Beginning his youth development at West Ham United in 1994, Danny moved to Queens Park Rangers three years later, signing YTS forms with the west Londoners. He went on to make his debut under Ian Holloway, but was ultimately released in 2003.
“I had a few different clubs interested in me at the time and didn’t see myself progressing at QPR. I got ‘Young Player of the Year’ in my first season and didn’t play as much as I wanted the following year.”
A proposed deal to Swindon Town fell through due to the Robins’ financial woes and the young defender found himself at non-leaguers Margate: “I was disappointed with how things turned out with Swindon, as I was left without a club. It wasn’t easy dropping down leagues and going on trials. Chris Kinnear was the manager. He knew me as a kid and gave me a chance to play. I was still able to go to other clubs on trials. If it wasn’t for Margate, Cork would never have happened, as Pat Dolan’s brother Eamonn was managing in the league. My dad emailed Pat, after which Pat spoke to his brother, to help things happen with Cork.”
The soon to be appointed ‘Cockney Rebel’ arrived in 2004 and knew almost instantly that Cork would be a perfect fit for the foreseeable future: “I landed in Cork on a Saturday evening after a match for Margate and played against Kilkenny on Sunday. Cork has always been home for my family, as my granddad is from there. My brother and I used to spend our holidays there as kids, so moving to Cork was never an issue … There was something about the club, fans and stadium that made things different. It was everything to play for City, it really was.”
Murphy and Cork City captured the subsequent season’s Premier Division title under Damien Richardson’s guidance, but when the Londoner’s contract expired, he joined Motherwell in early 2006: “It was a lot more direct and I found that hard because if you weren’t playing Celtic or Rangers, there wasn’t much passing. I got injured at the end of the season and one of the lads told me my number three shirt had been taken off me. Mark McGhee came in and never said a word to me. I didn’t really feature in pre-season and waited to knock on his door before asking what the situation was. When we came back from Austria, we had the conversation and he was looking for someone bigger. I said: ‘I’m 25 and not getting any taller. Can I go on loan?’ At first he didn’t let me and kept bringing me on in midfield with 10-20 minutes to go. I called Stephen Kenny and asked him take me on loan, if I could get Motherwell to agree and more or less begged to be let go. I did well at Dunfermline and Stephen was good to me. I’d like to think it was mutual, as I gave everything I had in training and games. Overall, I have mixed emotions about Scotland, but it wasn’t Ireland and could never be Cork City.”
Reappearing at Turner’s Cross, Danny assisted Alan Mathews’ side to the 2008 Setanta Sports Cup, but then financial mismanagement almost led to the club’s demise: “It was a disgrace what happened. Those in charge, whose names don’t even deserve to be in the same sentence as Cork City, tried to destroy my club. They are in such a better situation now and I truly believe that this happened for a reason, so Cork could get to where it’s at … Flying and dominating on and off the field.”
Penning a two-year contract with Michael O’Neill’s Shamrock Rovers in 2010, Murphy bagged a Premier Division winner’s medal and finished as an FAI Cup runner-up during his maiden season. However, Cork’s quest for a return to the top division and proximity to family proved to be more important than major trophy hunting.
“I made the right choice because if I didn’t, I would never have had that night at Shels with Cork. Winning the First Division was a highlight in my career and doing it with the club I loved was even better. Travelling up and down to Dublin from Cork, I just had my son Shay and it was hard ... I don’t think Rovers got the best out of me because of it. Although, I relished playing Bohs, as the atmosphere was great. Michael and the club were very understanding with how I felt. Some people close to me couldn’t understand my relationship with Cork and how desperate I was to be there.”
Danny goes on to explain what being a part of a Cork outfit resurrected by FORAS and snatching the 2011 First Division title in dramatic fashion meant to him: “I believed that I could help the club back to where they should be. All season, the only thing I could think of was promotion and I was determined. Going into that Shels game, I knew we would win. Any time I won a league, it was never easy and always came down to the last match.”
Now retired from playing, Murphy’s current role sees him involved with the Carolina Elite Soccer Academy: “I’m the director of player development. I was out in America in 2016, working for West Ham United’s international academy. I met with Pearse Tormey and Andrew Hyslop (CESA Co-Executive Directors) and we started the process of getting my visa. It’s a great club, with a lot of good talent and superb facilities. It was a fantastic opportunity that I couldn’t afford not to take up.”