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Dr Danny Murphy 'crucial to Down's All-Ireland double': McGrath

By Declan Bogue

Pete McGrath, Down's two-time All-Ireland-winning manager, has paid a warm tribute to former Ulster Council secretary Dr Danny Murphy, who passed away early yesterday morning.

The Burren man was Down county board chairman when McGrath clinched his first win in 1991, and was such a help to them that when he finished his term he was brought into the management team as a selector and they won Sam Maguire again in 1994.

Dr Murphy fought a brave and long battle with cancer, and only stepped down from the Ulster Council in August. McGrath last met him within the last fortnight at a GAA function.

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McGrath said: "He was just so close to the team in 1991 that I asked if he would come in as a selector because he had acted as a selector with Down senior teams in the 1980s.

"He agreed wholeheartedly, and he was at that stage the Ulster treasurer and chairman of a multitude of committees. He nevertheless gave us a very solid commitment as a selector and someone who was going to be very close to the team again.

"He was able to use his knowledge of officialdom to help us in 1994. He was just a man you could always rely on.

"If ever there was any doubt about protocol in any shape or form, Danny always had the answer. He did make a very significant contribution in 1994 and a massive one in 1991."

Explaining Murphy's role in 1991, McGrath continued: "Danny was the county board chairman when we won the All-Ireland, it was his first year. He took a great interest in what went on that year in terms of ensuring the team was properly handled by the county committee. We won an Ulster title and the All-Ireland. As county chairman he made big decisions. It was important that he thought in terms of the welfare of the team and management.

"He protected the team, protected the management, and he ensured that whatever decisions were to be taken with club fixtures, they were right.

"Between the All-Ireland semi-final and the final itself there was a five-week gap. Keeping a lid on things in a county could be difficult.

"But Danny as county chairman led from the front and was always a great source of inspiration and knowledge for the management in terms of how to deal with a lot of things, including the press.

"He really made a pivotal and significant contribution to the achievement of Down winning the All-Ireland in 1991."

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