Belfast Telegraph

Race ace Noel Murphy wrote about his death in poem a year before fatal smash

By Joanne Sweeney

A motorcycle road racer died a year after he wrote a poignant poem about a fatal crash, an inquest has heard.

Noel Murphy was killed instantly after suffering extensive injuries to his head, neck and chest in an accident in the Tandragee 100 event last year.

He was thrown 210 feet into a field after his bike hit a gate post on the final lap of his race at Cooly Hill in Co Armagh on May 3, 2014.

The inquest in Belfast heard that the 36-year-old Co Dublin man was likely to have been travelling at a speed of 100mph or more when his bike went wide on the road after a bend and briefly clipped the grass verge.

His bike skewed diagonally across the road before ploughing into a gate post.

Mr Murphy had been wearing a black crash helmet with his 168 race number and his nickname 'Smurf' on it.

After the inquest, Mr Murphy's partner Lana Farrell shared the poem he wrote in the event of his death.

He wrote: "To get that bend just right, and exit, throttle on and drive.

"I'm sorry I've gone early and I will miss you all.

"But in my last moments I was happy and that's the best way to fall."

Race marshal John Rimmer, the only eyewitness to the accident, said he saw the horrific moment unfolding before his eyes.

"He was very, very unlucky. If he'd gone either side of the gatepost... I am not saying he would have been OK but, hitting the gatepost as he did there was no chance whatsoever," Mr Rimmer said.

Coroner Suzanne Anderson was told by the police and technical steward that they had concluded that there had been no mechanical failure of the bike.

David Hamilton, a former racer and mechanic who bought the bike after the accident, gave evidence that he found damage to the gear mechanism which made it slip into a "fake neutral".

The inquest heard that Mr Rimmer did not hear the loud revving that could have occurred if Mr Murphy's bike had momentarily slipped into neutral.

However, an official report produced by Jason McMullan, from the North Armagh Motorcycle and Car Club, put the accident down to "rider error".

Noel Murphy Sr told the coroner that his son had been "delighted" with the performance of his bike during practice laps at Tandragee.

He added: "He had raced the bike the week before and he had won his first race the week before and he was delighted with the bike and the way it was going. He never spoke of any issues with the bike."

A plasterer by trade, Mr Murphy lived in Lusk, Co Dublin and was a father of one, a little boy called Leon with his partner Lana and loved her daughter Jayla, from a previous relationship, as his own.

Ms Farrell said that her partner had loved racing, having been involved in the sport for the last six years before his death,

She added: "It was a good inquiry today. There were plenty of questions asked and maybe if bales had gone up in place, there would have been improved safety. That's more what I am thinking of now, safety for the next rider that comes along."

The inquest revealed that the gate or gate post had not been protected by straw bales or foam in the event of a collision but since the accident the organisers would introduce improved safety measures.

Ms Anderson concluded that Mr Murphy had died as a result of head, neck and chest injuries.

Noel's poem

I'm sorry, friends, that I can't be with you here today,

If you're all gathered reading this, it means I've passed away,

But if I were there I'd tell you not to shed a tear or frown,

I'd tell you just to simply say, "Another biker has gone down".

If were there I'd tell you I have no more pain or strife,

That I loved my friends and family, and I had a wonderful life,

If I were there I'd tell you how I loved how riding makes me feel,

I loved the twisty and fast roads, and the power at the back wheel.

There's nothing else quite like it,

To make you feel alive,

To get that bend just right, and exit, throttle on and drive,

I'm sorry I've gone early and I will miss you all

But in my last moments I was happy, and that's the best way to fall.

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