On April 1, 2022, 21-year-old Sligo GAA star Red Óg Murphy died by suicide, and with the anniversary of his death this weekend, his parents are urging people to seek help when needed.
The footballer studied teaching at Dublin City University (DCU) and was on the verge of being named in the Sigerson Cup team of the year.
Tomorrow marks a year since his death and as luck would have it Red Óg’s native Sligo also play in the Division 4 National League Final against Wicklow at Croke Park.
His father Redmond and mother Geraldine said they miss their son “every day” and tomorrow’s finale will add an extra element of emotion to the first birthday.
“Every time we see Sligo play we think of Red Óg playing with them. So there’s a little bit of that, but you learn to deal with it,” Redmond Murphy told the Second Captains podcast.
“You never forget… As people say, you learn to deal with it, but it will never be forgotten. The love that was in it will never be broken,” added Geraldine Murphy.
Red Óg started his football career with his local club Tubbercurry and would go on to star for his county at underage level. A series of standout performances in the All-Ireland minor championship caught the attention of Australian Rules Football scouts and he was offered a trial in Melbourne.
The Australian experiment did not last and Red Óg returned to Ireland, obtained his Leaving Cert and earned a place at DCU.
Geraldine said her son was ambitious, “always very lively” and “always wanted to do his best”. His love for Gaelic football was also evident at a young age, his mother said.
“He had a diary and kept track of every game he played,” she said.
“Everything is in it, but at the end of every game is ‘courage’. This is what he has at the end, ‘courage’.”
Geraldine explained how there were complications during her pregnancy with Red Óg. She called him her “miracle” and said they feel “blessed” for the 21 years they have been with him.
She said Red Óg would be “embarrassed” by the outpouring of love and admiration people have expressed for him since his death. “He never realized how popular he was,” she added.
Red Óg’s parents said there were no signs of distress on their son’s part leading up to his death.
Neither his parents, nor his girlfriend Rachel, nor his brothers Óisín and Daithí were aware of any mental health issues he was dealing with.
Redmond and Geraldine said they hope their son’s death can shine a spotlight on the importance of asking for help when needed.
“That Friday night, Red Óg had reached a point of no return,” said Redmond.
“Whatever the reason, he reached a point of no return and what we’re begging people to do, especially the younger groups, is not to let it get to that point. If there are any early warning signs or if suicide comes to mind, tell them your best friend for every millisecond.
“There’s loads of help you can go to, call up. It’s all very anonymous, but it’s very supportive.”