There are few, if any, in Irish journalism or Waterford GAA to equal John Anthony Murphy, who recently turned a hale and hearty 70 years of age.
A former Chairman of the Waterford County Board and Western Board, and long-time reporter with The Dungarvan Observer, The Cork Examiner, Irish Examiner, and Waterford News & Star, Johnny’s is a name known the country over. And with good reason.
A great mentor, a tremendous friend and an outstanding colleague, Johnny’s popularity was heartily evidenced at a surprise ‘This Is Your Life’ ceremony held in Dungarvan’s Town Hall on Friday last.
Many of John’s friends from his native Cashel and the many lifelong friends he has made during a distinguished career in journalism and GAA administration, lined up to pay tribute to the man himself.
Among them were Waterford hurling legends Austin Flynn and Seamus O’Brien, the latter of whom recently celebrated his 90th birthday.
“Johnny was a very good administrator and we always got on very well together,” said Seamus, who was a selector of the 1957 Waterford team which reached that year’s All-Ireland final.
“He was a welcome Tipperary man in Waterford GAA! I’ve had a long association with Johnny and we’ve enjoyed many good times together.”
Flynn, the Abbeyside giant and 1959 All-Ireland winner, described John as a great confidante and lifelong friend.
“In recent years, whenever Waterford have been in Munster finals or other big games, I’ve been very careful when answering the phone when a journalist wanted me to comment on something,” he said.
“And it led to many a phonecall to Johnny to find out about certain journalists, Seamus O’Brien and Tony Mansfield too – they’ve always been great when it’s come to marking my card.”
Flynn ended his contribution with a ‘serious’ message for John A. “May the road rise to meet you, may the wind always be at your back and may you never be without a shilling in your pocket, a light on your bike or an arse in your pants!”
Former News & Star editor Peter Doyle compared Johnny Murphy to Waterford’s Tony Browne, who was also among the invited guests on a night that will long be remembered.
“They share similar characteristics,” said Mr Doyle. “They’ve both been around a hell of a long time but they’re still at the top of their game.