Murphy Sheerin Veterinary Surgery in Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow is not just synonymous with quality healthcare for animals of all sizes; it is also closely associated with the GAA thanks to the success of practice co-owner Tommy Murphy on the playing fields.
Tommy, who played football for Baltinglass, Wicklow and Leinster, is the only man in the history of Wicklow GAA to have won a staggering 13 county senior championship medals. He won his first in 1976 and last in 1994 when Baltinglass completed their famous eight-in-a-row.
However, the highlight of Tommy’s glittering playing career came in 1990 when he was player / manager of the Baltinglass side that defeated Clan na Gael of Roscommon by 2-7 to 0-7 to bring an historic All-Ireland club title to the Garden County for the first and only time. It was a proud day at Croke Park for the Murphy family as Tommy was joined on the Baltinglass team by his brothers Con – who scored 2-3 from play – and Pat. Tommy was deployed in his customary third midfielder role, while Con was right corner forward and Pat was centre half back.
“We had an exceptional team,” the affable veterinary surgeon recalls.
“We probably didn’t realise it at the time, but when you look back and see all the success we had, we were obviously very good. It was a great time to be a Baltinglass footballer. We were very close-knit which was hardly surprising considering we had three sets of brothers on our All-Ireland winning team – three Kennys (Billy, Hugh and Paul), two O’Briens (Kevin and Sean) and three Murphys.
“Sadly, the club hasn’t had the same amount of success in recent years and we’ve only won the senior championship once – in 2007 – in the past 19 years. We’ve lost the last two county finals by a point to St. Pat’s of Wicklow and Rathnew respectively.
“But despite the fact that we’ve lost about seven starters from the 2012 final team for various reasons, we’d still be among the top two or three teams in Wicklow. I managed our second team to a junior ‘A’ championship final victory over Kilmacanogue last year which means we are up intermediate this year. Ourselves and Rathnew are the only clubs to have teams in the top two grades.”
In addition to the success he enjoyed with his beloved club, Murphy garnered three Sigerson Cup medals in the colours of UCD in 1977, ’78 and ’79, lining out alongside football greats like Meath’s Colm O’Rourke, Tony McManus of Roscommon and Dublin’s Pat O’Neill. He represented Wicklow at senior level for a decade and would surely have gone on for longer but for mounting work and family commitments.
Tommy was also selected to play for Leinster in the same three years as he won the Sigerson Cup, but Railway Cup honours eluded him. His only regrets from a remarkable senior career which spanned 22 years from 1974 to ’96 were his failure not to have won more than one Leinster club medal with Baltinglass and Wicklow’s inability to challenge for major honours. He reckons they had their strongest team in 1986 when they won the O’Byrne Cup and two games in the Leinster championship before losing to Meath in the semi-final.
Tommy’s three sons, Tommy jnr, Kevin and William, have followed in his footsteps by donning the Baltinglass jersey. While Tommy jnr and Kevin are current members of the club’s senior team, William’s playing career was sadly cut short due to a serious knee injury. Married to Catherine for nearly 32 years, Tommy also has two daughters, Ruth and Mary.
Apart from the GAA, the Murphy name is synonymous with the veterinary profession in Baltinglass, which is situated in the south-west of Co. Wicklow and within a kick of a ball of the Carlow and Kildare boundaries. Tommy is carrying on a family tradition which began in the late 1940s when his late father Thomas arrived in Baltinglass from Straboe, Co. Carlow to set up the village’s first veterinary practice.
Thomas ran the practice up until his death in 1995, after which Tommy took over. Then, in 2000, Jim Sheerin – who is married to Tommy’s sister Joan – joined as a partner and so it was renamed Murphy Sheerin Veterinary Surgery, having been known as Thomas Murphy Veterinary Practice prior to then.
“My father had to work extremely hard to get the practice established,” explains Tommy.
“It was tough going in the early days. I remember him telling me there were days when he got no call outs. Gradually, though, things picked up for him and the practice is now well-known in the area. My father was very popular, something that was reflected in the huge crowds of people who came to his funeral to pay their final respects to him.”
After qualifying as a vet himself, Tommy spent three years working for Ironside & McDonagh Veterinary Clinic in Ennistymon, Co. Clare before returning to the family practice in 1983. Tommy and Jim are joined in the practice by two other vets – John McHugh and Lynne Cooke. Christine Lennon and Cora Shortt keep the show on the road by doing all the secretarial work and much more besides. Tommy’s aforementioned daughter Ruth is in charge of stocktaking.
Murphy Sheerin Veterinary Surgery is a mixed practice which treats both farm animals and pets.
“Large animals, such as cattle, horses and sheep, account for about 75 per cent of our business with small animals, such as dogs, cats and other family pets, accounting for the remaining 25 per cent. The number of small animals we treat has increased dramatically in recent years. But dairy, suckler cows and sheep remain our core business,” Tommy says.
A friendly veterinary practice which prides itself on providing the highest quality healthcare for your animal, Murphy Sheerin Veterinary Surgery offers a comprehensive 24-7 365 on call service to its clients, meaning a vet is only ever a phone call away.
Murphy Sheerin is a modern veterinary clinic, with fully equipped operating theatres, X-ray and gaseous anesthesia facilities. It boasts a large and loyal customer-base in south-west Wicklow which extends into the neighbouring counties of Carlow and Kildare.
Murphy Sheerin Veterinary Surgery
Telephone: 059 648 1441
Fax: 059 648 1966
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 2 No 2, June/July 2014