Belfast Giants winger Darcy Murphy says he has found a second home in Northern Ireland after announcing his retirement from the sport following a trophy-laden spell with the club.
The Ontario native is a two-time Elite League winner and a three-time Challenge Cup winner in just three seasons with the Giants and leaves the club as one of their adopted sons, affectionately nicknamed ‘Darcy Dangles’ by the fans.
Murphy doesn’t just depart as a winner, but he also wrote his name into the history books at the SSE Arena for scoring the most goals in a single season when he hit 50 in just 79 games in the 2018/19 campaign.
In all, the 29-year-old hangs up the skates having played in 188 games for the Giants, scoring 89 goals and 171 points, and admits he walks away without any regrets.
“What a journey it’s been. When I first arrived in Belfast in 2015 as a college hockey player in the Friendship Four, I knew I wanted to return some day, and I’m glad I did,” said Murphy.
"I quickly found a second home in the city – within its people, the Giants organisation, my teammates, the coaching staff, and the Teal Army of course.
“It felt like a fitting time to hang up the skates, having hoisted two Elite League and three Challenge Cup trophies in three seasons at the Giants. I can walk away from the game knowing that I’ve fulfilled everything I set out to do, and more. It’s been special.
“I can’t thank those who made my experience in Belfast what it was, enough – the list would be endless, but you know who you are. The Belfast Giants will always have a place in my heart.”
Murphy first came to Belfast with Colgate University for the 2015 Friendship Four and returned on a more permanent basis when he first signed with the Giants in 2017 after spells with the Elmira Jackals, Tulsa Oilers and Manitoba Moose in North America.
After a promising first season in Belfast, which yielded 34 goals and 59 points and his first Cup title, the elusive winger hit top form in the 18/19 campaign as he banged in 50 goals and 101 points in all competitions, leading the team to League and Cup joy.
Personal accolades flowed, with Murphy named EIHL Forward of the Year and to the EIHL All-Star First Team, while he was also the Best Forward in the Continental Cup as the Giants finished second after a heart-breaking shoot-out defeat to Arlan Kokshetau.
Those performances earned him a move to German second division side Lausitzer Füchse for the pandemic-shortened 19/20 season and he would spend the following year split between HC Thurgau in the Swiss second division and Cracovia Krakow in Poland.
Following the pandemic, Murphy returned to Belfast for his third and final season with the Giants and helped lead them to another League and Cup double, although he saw his own role reduced following repeated injury problems that meant he only featured in 41 games, scoring five goals and 11 points.
But last season will not take away from a sparkling career at the SSE Arena for the Canadian, who was a firm fan favourite with the Giants’ faithful, and he leaves with the praise of his head coach ringing in his ears.
“The retirement of Darcy Murphy will touch the hearts of the Teal Army, and the Giants organisation as a whole,” hailed Giants chief Adam Keefe.
“A true team player, on and off the ice, it has been an absolute pleasure to stand behind the bench as his coach and watch him do what he does best. His passion for this team and this city hit home with the fans, whether he was celebrating goals, engaging with the local community and fans, or lifting well-deserved and hard-earned silverware.
“We’d like to thank Darcy Murphy for three incredible seasons in teal, and whilst we are disappointed to see him go, we wish him the very best for his next chapter and life after hockey.
"The impact that Murph made in Belfast will live on, and his career here should be celebrated. He will forever be a Giants legend.”