I asked myself, “f**k, what else did you get away with rugby?”

When he was 31, Barry Murphy was at the point where he needed to see a psychiatrist.

All the dreams he had, good and bad, came true. From initially hoping to only get one match for Monster, he ended up wearing the jersey 73 times. But nightmares ensued, and Murphy feared that the whole thing would end as suddenly as it had begun.

By 28 it was. He had a broken leg in 2006; dislocation of the ankle in the same year; a broken hand in 2007; Shoulder injuries, torn ankle ligaments, and finally an injury to his foot forced him in 2011 to walk away from the game with a limp. The show is over, the curtains are clogged.

“I never thought I’d be a pro, so I tried telling myself I was lucky,” he says. However, this was not how he felt. The transition from a rugby career to one in music meant he still had an audience to entertain, but when September 2014 came, the audience needed him.

Monster’s psychologist Declan Ahern was the man to call, and Murphy was planning to tell Ahern how disoriented he felt, and how the transition from an organized life as an athlete to a world with no boss, did not suit his character.

“From a lifestyle perspective, I’m probably a little heavy on the wild side (after retirement),” Murphy says. “I’m still in my head that I can go back. There have been some dark times but there have also been great times. Being in the band, I wouldn’t change that for anything. But this time eight years ago, I needed help.”

Ahern session.

“Declan,” Murphy admitted, “I am absolutely everywhere.”

Ahern listened, the way the best sports psychologists do, and then asked one question, about the ankle injury that kept Murphy out of the 2006 Heineken Cup Final.

“Is this really appropriate?” asked Murphy.

He soon realized, how he felt in 2014 had its origins in the things he had missed in 2006, a place in the European Cup winning team, and the chance to write his name down in history. “I didn’t really deal with it at the time,” Murphy says.

Now it was.

Monster celebrates winning in 2006 – a match Murphy missed.

Source: Billy Stickland / INPHO

It was a September day, just like today, and that’s no coincidence. Across Ireland this morning, countless former players are going through a quiet kind of hell, realizing that as the new rugby campaign kicks off, their personal season of eternal winter, the Arendelle Sports, approaches.

They all suffer. The Barry Murphys, The Brian O’Driscolls. “The worst thing that scares me is that life has come to a head,” O’Driscoll told Ritchie Sadler on BT Sport earlier this week.

For Murphy, that wasn’t the case. It was the fact that he sat in the stands for the 2006 Heineken Cup Final when he could have been on the field; The fact that he found confidence at the age of twenty-eight after a decade of doubt, the end came at a time when his level was at its peak; The fact that he doesn’t know what to do with his life.

“I asked myself, ‘Damn, what else did you get away with rugby?'” What do I do financially? School was not good for me and at the time I retired, I never thought that music could become my profession.

“I felt a little lost because when your purpose in life is gone, nothing can prepare you for that.”

That’s why he wants to tell his story, and why he wants to sell her virtues Ireland rugby playersthe body of players who continually prepare Irish rugby players for the sporting afterlife, and who are there for the former player when the rest of the world passes on to someone else.

Near the house, another person was also protecting his back.

Meaning it was a strange friendship, Murphy’s career began just as Anthony Foley’s life was fading, and yet they clicked. As captain, Foley liked the way Murphy behaves in the locker room, ‘flying under the radar, but able to show that he can be a little crazy’.

Barry Murphy and Anthony Foley

Foley and Murphy share a laugh during training.

Source: Kathal Noonan / INPHO

“It was an amazing place,” Murphy says of Monster’s locker room in 2006 and 2008. There was such a perfect balance between earnestness and earnestness. There was maturity when it came to match day, and cold ruthlessness to what we did; Then there was the sheer immaturity on training days, 40 boys farting and playing.

“I’m not sure people realize what it was really like there. Take the Donners (Donnacha O’Callaghan) as a prime example. Because he was laughing and joking, people outside thought he was the class clown; but he was easily the most professional player I’ve ever met” .

Then there was Foley and Ronan O’Gara. “These two can bother you, time after time. What they said (to the group) was so precise and well-timed. Something I wouldn’t have thought of; these guys were so good at expressing themselves to the group. I loved being there for it. I loved being there.” part of it.”

Yet it could have happened.


A quiet 19-year-old stood in the hallway of a Cape Cod apartment and stared out at the Atlantic. That was the year 2004.

He had finished his studies a year earlier; Picking up a business driving a van around Limerick, falling in love with rugby again after escaping from the pressurized nature of the school game, he excelled at the Monster Experience before collecting his J1 for a fun-filled summer in the States.

There was something he loved about the United States, its vastness, its climate and its nightlife. It was about six weeks ago when a call came in.

It was his father. “There’s a message for you here; (Monster Under) in their twenties they want you for a second trial.”

He didn’t want to go. Everything a 19-year-old could want, sun, and surf, was right here.

So it stayed. A day later the phone rang again. This time it was his uncle.

“Barry, if you want your father to talk to you again,” he said, half jokingly, half serious, “go home for that trial.”

If this were a third-class Hollywood movie, the camera would focus its lens on Murphy, pensive, deliberating about his uncle’s words. You’ll see his furrowed brow and flashbacks to moments past, when father and son traveled to London for the 2000 Heineken Cup Final.

The narrator was telling a story about his father touring New Zealand in the 1970s with his club; About being in Thomond Park for who – which In 1978, he transferred his love for sports to his son. You’ll hear the son say, “I’ll do it for a pop!”

But that’s not how it happened.

“Run the damn money!”

So he came back, went for a trial, made the Monster Under 20s, won the interpretation, was picked by Ireland and got a €7,000-a-year contract with the Monster 1 team – ‘a fortune as far as I was concerned’.

And that was when he started writing his memoirs.

After reading it again now, he could see the basic topics. Trust was a problem. He suffered from Impostor Syndrome and also suffered from Alan Gaffney’s tough love.

Gordon Darcy treats Barry Murphy

Murphy in his first season at Monster.

Source: © INPHO

“He was a typical Australian and they would go to town on you if you weren’t up to the level you needed; they would pick you up and set an example. I couldn’t.

“It almost broke me in my first year because I didn’t have the confidence, the level of skill I could get to right in the deep end (of professional rugby). I found it a pretty daunting experience. I thought I might be out but they gave me another development contract the following year.” “.

Then Declan Kidney came along.

On the first day of his second coming, he pulled Murphy aside. “Just enjoy yourself, boy, do what you did at Munchins.”

In many ways, this is a typical Declan Kidney story. On one level, there is little detail about what he will say; Yet the words were transformative.

It’s something we hear all the time, how a shy, awkward, bald middle-aged man who, by all accounts, wasn’t a great coach, could easily communicate with players half his age, and intuitively knows what to say and when to say he-she.

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“Some players around Dickey may have found his lack of detail frustrating, like Rogge, and players who came back, for example, from the Lions Tour. You see, Deccie wasn’t a Joe Schmidt coach.

“But he’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met. At that point in my career, I needed the friendly face, the guy who knew my daughter and knew what I was thinking. It was a relief to have him there. I definitely don’t need someone to tell me I was filthy.”

“Now by the time I was 27 and my confidence levels had grown, I might have been craving Joe Schmidt-type fella. I was pissed that I had never been able to work with Schmidt because I had heard all about his details. It was such a pleasure to scream at me to do things a certain way, because by that age I would have been strong enough to accept it.”

A quick look at his diary shows how he went from an unsure newcomer to a man who felt he could “grab a game by the scruff, to become a potential captain of Monster”.

“It took me a long time to realize that I was good enough. For a long time, I was trying to be like (Lifeimi) Mafi and (Rua) Tipoki.”

– “Why don’t you try to be like Barry Murphy.”

That was Foley’s advice. He always chose his words carefully.

When that foot injury ended Murphy’s career in 2011, it was Foley who kept picking up the phone. “Meet you at lunch, Barry?” “Do you want to play with five guys here at Kilauea on Tuesday?”

September came and went.

He learned to hate the month because September was when everyone was counting down the days to the next rugby season while counting the years since he last played, knowing that the one thing he “was good at, sure of” was past.

Ahern, psychologist helped. So did the band, Hermitage Green. He also became a husband and a father. So does the passage of time.

In September he stopped hurting. He was 35 years old. All of his peers had retired by that time as well.

Feeling better about himself, he started working with former Irish winger, Andrew Trimble, and soon became best friends and hosts a great rugby podcast, Drilling and Penquins.

However, there was a new sore that would not heal. Foley, who was looking for him, is gone.

Being a musician, it was almost inevitable that he would be asked to write a song about his friend. It took him five years to finish it.

Barry Murphy

Murphy sings with his band, Hermitage Green.

Source: Billy Stickland / INPHO

“It was hard to do. I tried to write it from the perspective of how everyone felt about Axl (Foley). It didn’t work. So I wrote it from my own experiences but the thing is that when you write, you have to sit down with grief (Anthony’s death). It affected because Get you somewhere you wouldn’t normally go when you’re sad.”

At first, the song was to be played only for Anthony’s sister, but soon it turned out that she could do well in fundraising for charity, which added a whole new level of anxiety to Murphy. “Will Axel’s acting be good enough?”

Overwhelmed by the response.

“I find it very difficult to listen to the song because when I hear it, you are reminded that he is gone. I know how much sadness it brings me. I find it a little hard for people close to Axl to hear it and feel sad. It might be a strange thing for people to hear me say about My own song. But that’s the way I think about it because he meant so much to me as a friend. I miss him so much.”

These days he no longer misses playing the way he used to.

These days, September is no longer a difficult time of the year. Like everyone else, next weekend, the season opener, is something to be excited about. Once upon a time, this was a painful week as hell, when he thought bitterly of a career that was brilliant but short. He’ll get a little “why me?” moments. He wants to turn back the clock.

Then one day he woke up and realized that life was not over. It has simply changed. Old Barry Murphy isn’t something he craves anymore. The current person had a family, a career and a life that he loved. This is his medal in the Heineken Cup. It only took 16 years to arrive.