Cork man Frank Murphy is about to fulfill an ambition from a young age to referee the All Ireland Hurling Final.

Cork man Frank Murphy is secretary of the Blackrock Hurling Club and a trainer for the under-13s for juvenile leagues. At the age of 27 he is now about to achieve his biggest ambition by refereeing the All Ireland Hurling Final between Tipperary and Kilkenny at Croke Park.

Frank Murphy started out refereeing at the age of 15 in the Blackrock Parish Leagues and always hoped to make it to inter county level. He did not play very much hurling himself but was always interested in being a referee.

Frank Murphy says he received great encouragement from the late Derry Cremin and Paul O’Donovan.

I just fancied the idea of being a referee.

Educated at Sullivan’s Quay and subsequently at University College Cork (UCC) where he taught for four years before taking up a management position at an educational company. He is also secretary of the Blackrock Club with responsibility for five adult teams and 11 underage teams.

This year we had 500 lads playing in these leagues.

All of these responsibilities can present dilemmas at times for Frank. The first game that Frank was appointed to referee at Croke Park was between Limerick and Tipperary. However, he had to turn it down as one of the Blackrock teams were also playing the same day.

The first Munster Championship game Frank Murphy refereed was in 1970 between Limerick and Clare. It was after this game that he became known as a referee at national level moving from local to inter-county to provincial and now championship level.

Frank Murphy recalls sending off four players in one game at inter-county level. Despite this, he believes that sportsmanship at a county level is generally of a good standard.

He would like to see more training and cooperation between referees and more opportunities for them to meet up and share their experiences of the games and learn from one another. He would also like to see coaching courses for referees at a national level.

It’s always very interesting to hear the other man’s side of the story.

One particular referee which Frank learnt from and admired was John Moloney.

Regardless of what level the game is at, Frank Murphy always endeavours to do his best in the role of referee.

I think that when I get out there next Sunday, I won’t be taking notice of the crowd at all.

The referee for the minor hurling final between Cork and Kilkenny is Mick Spain from Offaly. He has become a prominent inter-county referee over the last few years. To date, his biggest assignment has been the Railway Cup Final between Leinster and Munster on Saint Patrick’s Day.

Another man with a role to play at the All Ireland Hurling Final is Most Rev Dr Morris, one of the patrons of the GAA. He believes the day of the hurling finals is more of an Irish occasion than Saint Patrick’s Day.

The high point of Irishness, so to speak, is there in Croke Park on the day of the final.

The sense of occasion is even greater now that the matches are televised. While these days the Most Rev Dr Morris watches the game from the VIP section of the Hogan Stand, he has fond memories of watching games among the ordinary supporters. Croke Park also has a special place in the Most Rev Dr Morris’s heart as it is named after Archbishop Thomas Croke, the first patron of the newly founded Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

This episode of 'Gaelic Report’ was broadcast on 30 August 1971. The reporter is Mick Dunne.