Brian Barry-Murphy chose soccer where his illustrious father Jimmy Barry-Murphy had chosen GAA. Actually the elder Barry-Murphy, as well as winning GAA football and hurling Munster and All-Ireland medals with his club St Finbarr’s and the Cork senior teams, also played soccer with Wilton and Cork Celtic; apparently he knows a bit about greyhound racing too. Having moved over to England from Cork City 20 years ago, Brian has recently taken over as caretaker manager of the English side I support, Rochdale.
BBM [as he is affectionately known at Rochdale; his father was and still is known as JBM] may not have had a soccer career as high-profile as his father’s GAA one. While fellow Cork natives like Denis Irwin and Roy Keane scaled the dizzy heights of the Premiership [and earned the millions that came with it], BBM has had a career as a journeyman lower-division footballer that has been rich in adventure. Stepping up from first-team coach to caretaker manager at Rochdale [a club he originally joined in 2010 as a player; he still retains his playing registration] is the latest chapter.
I remember seeing Brian play with Cork City way back at the start of his playing career. He looked a quality defensive midfielder even back then. After his stint with his hometown club [between 1995 and 99] he moved across the water and joined Preston North End at a time when David Moyes was making his name as a manager with the side, taking them from the third tier to knocking on the door of the Premier League.
Barry-Murphy has spoken in interviews about how hard Moyes worked the players in training, and how that discipline and fitness made them a great side and instilled in the players a work ethic that has stood to them in their careers [certainly Brian always gave his all, even if it was on a cold wet night in front of a small crowd in the lower divisions]. The players responded to Moyes’ methods. What is revealing about BBM’s comments is that the seeds of Moyes’ ultimate downfall are alluded too – perhaps the megabucks millionaires at clubs like Manchester United didn’t want to graft the way Preston’s squad did.
During his time at Preston BBM didn’t secure a regular first-team spot but had loan spells at Southend United and Hartlepool United. He moved on to Sheffield Wednesday [where he was a regular first-teamer] and Bury [where he played 218 of his 377 EFL games] before arriving at Rochdale.
JBM may have many records but one that BBM has is worth noting. In May 2005, as Bury played out a 2-2 draw with Wrexham at the end of the 2004-05 EFL League Two campaign, Barry-Murphy scored what was Bury’s 1,000th goal in England’s 4th tier, making them the first club [and still the only club] to have scored 1,000 goals in all 4 divisions at the top of England’s football pyramid.
Dale’s long-serving [and greatest-ever] manager Keith Hill was sacked recently, with the club on a seemingly endless losing streak that had seen them fall from the fringes of the play-off spots to the foot of the League One table. It was a sad end for Hill, the man who delivered 2 promotions for a club that have only ever had 3. Still, Hill’s departure is BBM’s opportunity. His first game saw a win [against Shrewsbury Town] and Oxford United were held to a draw in his second game. The Lancashire derby against Accrington Stanley was postponed at the weekend so next up for BBM’s Dale is the visit of Scunthorpe United this Saturday. Good luck Brian, from all in the League of Ireland.