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The end of an era as Ulster chief Murphy to step down

By John Campbell

Ulster GAA Chief Executive and Provincial Secretary Danny Murphy is to retire from his role in February after 16 years at the head of operations.

The Down native is regarded as one of the leading administrators within the Association to which he has given a lifetime of service in various capacities.

Under his stewardship, the Ulster Council has successfully assisted in a number of visionary initiatives that have included the refurbishment and floodlighting of major grounds, streamlining coaching programmes, cross-community ventures and closer links with other major sporting bodies.

"It has always been an enormous privilege to have been part of the Ulster Council for the past 35 years and by the time I come to my departure I will have concluded 31 years as an officer of the Council," said Murphy.

"I have been and will always remain deeply honoured to have served the GAA in Ulster and to have worked with our nine counties.

"I have been privileged to work with every President from the late Peter Harte to Michael Hasson.

"A process will be taken forward by the Ulster Council in the coming months to appoint my successor and in the meantime I would like to thank everyone for all their support and work on behalf of the Association during my time as secretary."

Ulster Council president Michael Hasson paid a warm tribute to Murphy, emphasising that he had "made a truly outstanding contribution to the GAA in Ulster and beyond".

"I thank him for his service, dedication, leadership and strategic foresight," added Hasson.

Meanwhile, former Antrim hurling player and manager Dominic McKinley is urging Ulster club and county teams to take on board the commitment, passion and fervour that the four All-Ireland hurling semi-finalists will unleash this weekend.

With Waterford and Kilkenny crossing swords again today in Thurles - they drew 1-21 to 0-24 at Croke Park on Sunday - and Tipperary going toe to toe with Galway at Headquarters tomorrow, McKinley believes the stage is set for an enthralling climax to the competition.

"Players from Ulster who harbour ambition and a serious desire to do well in hurling should make a close study of these games to see what it really takes to get to the top," stated McKinley.

And McKinley strongly insists that Kilkenny are "a class apart" when it comes to revealing fire and hunger.

"There are players getting maybe £200,000 a week in the Premiership who would not be able to show the resolve and absolute dedication to the cause the Kilkenny consistently reveal," he maintained. "I see them as a class apart."

There is a perception that Waterford may have missed the boat when they allowed Kilkenny to snatch their draw last weekend but McKinley warns against ruling out Derek McGrath's side.

Tomorrow's head-to-head between Tipperary and Galway represents another opportunity for the Tribesmen to prove they can emerge as serious contenders for a title they have not won since 1988.

They were labelled "gutless" by former Clare All-Ireland winning manager Ger Loughnane, now an RTE pundit, following their Leinster final collapse against Kilkenny but gained a measure of redemption with a six-point qualifier win over Clare.

They face a Tipperary side that humbled Waterford in the Munster final.

Belfast Telegraph


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