Killare man helps Ireland to fifth place in Olympic eventing
By Finian Coghlan
After helping his country to fifth place in the Olympics with two superb clear rounds in the final showjumping phase on Monday, Westmeath’s Joseph Murphy returned to Ireland on Tuesday (July 31) with a lifetime’s worth of memories.
“You couldn’t describe the feeling of being there. It was out of this world,” said the Co Down-based, full-time eventer from Killare, Ballymore.
“Sometimes I’d look up at the big screen and imagine that’s what it’d be like if I wasn’t there,” he said.
Joseph was part of a five-person team who competed in the three-day event in Greenwich Park last weekend, and his 14th place out of 74 riders from 13 nations helped Ireland to its highest ever finish in this Olympic competition.
“Oh, it was a great weekend. You’re always dreaming you’ll be competitive at a big event and sometimes, sometimes, it comes off,” he said.
“The two clears? Ah, that’s all people remember from the final day, but it’s been a long haul, and between the dressage and the cross-country it took its toll,” he went on.
He accepted that Ireland “as a nation might be a little behind in the dressage”, and paid tribute to his “iconic” competitors, Mark Todd of New Zealand (team bronze) and William Fox-Pitt, UK (team silver).
Modestly, he did not point out how he was just two places behind triple-Olympic champion Todd, and 13 places ahead of Fox-Pitt in the individual placings.
Joseph returns to the real world with quite a bang this weekend, as he travels to an event in Cork.
“It’s very wet down there, but we’ve been preparing four horses for it. But that’s the season. Until November there’s no stopping,” he pointed out.
“For the last year the hype to just get there [the Olympics] was huge, so there’s a certain bit of an anticlimax, but it’d probably be a lot worse for those who had a bit of bad luck,” he reasonably explained.
“Doing what you love doing. It’s all worth it when you get an experience like that. I’ll never forget that, never,” said the 35-year-old Olympian, as he paid a final tribute to both his support team and supporters in the east London park.
His mother Netta explained just how far this had gone.
“We had a poster of him clearing jumps in Greenwich put up across the front door when we came back. It was beyond our wildest dreams,” said proud Netta.
“We’re so proud of him. When he did the clear round, oh the smile on his face! The stadium just lit up. And on the cross-country he had support at every fence. Lads from Mullingar with his face on their t-shirts everywhere,” said a still beaming Mrs Murphy.
She went on to point out that Monday was probably the biggest day in the Murphy household, as just an hour or so after Joseph’s cross-country run around Greenwich, his twin Ciarán was doing the very same aboard the Dot Love-trained Shadow Eile in the amateur handicap at the Galway Races.