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kingdom come Murphy admits he was ‘delighted to start’ amid emotive issue of captaincy

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Kerry captain Paul Murphy at the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Launch at Ross Castle in Killarney, Kerry. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Kerry captain Paul Murphy at the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Launch at Ross Castle in Killarney, Kerry. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Kerry captain Paul Murphy at the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Launch at Ross Castle in Killarney, Kerry. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

In February of last year, a motion from Beaufort GAA was presented to the clubs of Kerry proposing that “the captain of the county senior hurling and football teams shall be selected by the team management in consultation with the chairman of the Kerry County Committee”.

Had it passed, the new mechanism would have applied from this year onwards. There was some indication that Peter Keane was in favour of the change.

The motion received 50 votes to 48, but it was defeated as it did not get the required two-thirds majority.

It remains an emotive issue.

On the occasion prior to that, when it was last brought up, in December 2018, a delegate from then county champions, Dr Crokes, spoke vehemently against change.

“I have heard several times about Stephen Cluxton (Dublin captain) with regard to this idea of (management) selecting a captain. We are not Dublin, nor does Kerry ever want to be a Dublin,” he said.

“Let Dublin do what they want to do with their captaincy and let us be Kerry and keep our traditions. Once you throw tradition away, it is very hard to get it back.”

It can, however, lead to an awkward scenario for everyone involved: the non-playing captain.

Which was partly why Paul Murphy was so relieved to have been selected for the Munster final demolition of Cork after a couple of appearances from the Kerry bench prior to that.

“Delighted to have started,” he confirms.

“And really happy to have come in off the bench against Tipp. I had a small bit of a niggle towards the end of the league there and once that cleared up, I was just focusing on trying to get back in.

“But as captain, it’s a great sign. And I’m delighted to see young lads coming into the panel starting games and driving things on when they get in there.

“Everyone would like to play. Everyone would like to play for the Kerry team, but only 15 can.”

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Equally, these are delicate times for inter-county players who remain in the championship.

In any normal year, Murphy says he would mix quite happily with friends and Kerry supporters but the exceptional circumstances require a heightened level of caution.

“It’s slightly different this year in that we’re genuinely trying to cocoon ourselves. Trying not to meet people.

“I’ve got vaccines at this stage. But we’ve seen in other counties how people have gotten it. They’re isolating, they’re missing training, they’re missing games. You’re tucking yourself away a bit. It’s tough. Friends and family, you’re making excuses to avoid them at times.”

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