‘Team Eugene’ feeling the love on Valentine’s Day canvass

On The Doorsteps – Dan Dooner trails … Eugene Murphy

I spent Valentine’s Day with Cllr Eugene Murphy in Strokestown. The day started rather appropriately at a St. Brigid’s match – St. Brigid’s, of course, is the club fellow Fianna Fail candidate, Shane Curran, played in goal for.

  The Kiltoom-based team were in Strokestown for a league game and Eugene was canvassing cars on their way into the ground. He received a positive reception from both Strokestown and St. Brigid’s supporters, with occupants of one or two cars sporting St. Brigid’s colours vowing to support him.

  There was no controversy – these people were hurrying to the match but one shouted “Best of luck Euge!” from behind green and red rearview mirror decorations.

  The subject of Curran’s addition to the ticket came up and Eugene was relaxed, saying that there would never be any “bitterness” and suggesting that in this (politics) game situations like that were par for the course.

  This is Eugene Murphy – the guy has been written off before, you know – and yet here he is campaigning for a seat in the Dáil. He rubbed  his hands and approached supporters with gusto, Kiltoom cars and all.

  Eventually the ball was thrown in and Eugene decided it was time for a change of location.

  Before we set off for Beirne’s pub, Eugene issued instructions to canvassers heading to Tarmonbarry.

  “Now remember, make sure not to post anything through doors with ‘no junk mail’, and don’t be in people’s faces if they’re in restaurants.”  

  On our way to Beirne’s he explained the fine line canvassers must walk or run.

  “Look, the last thing you want is to be annoying people”, he said, explaining why his team canvassed outside the football match rather than in the ground and the effort they had made to avoid holding cars up.

  Eugene wanted to know what I thought of the Leaders’ Debate (the first one). He felt his party leader performed well and that the Taoiseach and Tanaiste struggled. It was a fair assessment and he became passionate as he looked back on the debate as a whole.

  He was more scathing in his opinion of Labour, or “the smoked salmon socialists” as he called them. Neither was he enamoured with the finger-pointing and said it was “time to move on”, although he did point out that Fianna Fáil accepted mistakes had been made and that “innovation” was now needed.

  We arrived in the rather cosy surrounds of Beirne’s in Strokestown just as England touched down to take the lead against Italy. Tea and coffee all round as I got chatting to Vincent Caulfield, Murphy’s campaign manager, who said that there had been a good reception in Ballyleague and surrounding areas recently and that the next two weeks would see hard work being done across mid-Roscommon. He added that with darkness coming early this time of year it was important not to be knocking on doors after 8 o’clock.

  Vincent and I got onto soccer and he made a comment about Leicester City Football Club. Something along the lines of superstars not guaranteeing success – and the importance of hard work.

  With that, it was time for ‘Team Eugene’ to head off again, but before they left I got talking to his wife Linda and Nadine, his daughter.

  They, along with the rest of his supporters, are confident that this is his time and  it’s clear they’ll be right beside him working hard to help him realise a long-held ambition.