Frank Murphy: Ireland's 1969 European 1500m silver medallist dies ages 69

Frank Murphy took 1500m silver behind Britain's John Whetton at the 1969 European Championships in Athens
Frank Murphy was edged out for 1500m gold by Britain's John Whetton in the final stride at the 1969 European Championships

Tributes have been paid to Ireland's 1969 European Championship 1500m silver medallist Frank Murphy who has died aged 69 following a long illness.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Murphy maintained Ireland's tradition of middle distance excellence with a series of impressive performances.

Like Ronnie Delany before him and later Eamonn Coghlan, Murphy attended Villanova University in the US.

Murphy added a European indoor silver in 1970 to his 1969 outdoor silver.

A year after competing in his first Olympics in Mexico City, the Drumcondra native came within a stride of landing the European 1500m outdoor title in Athens as he was pipped by Britain's John Whetton.

Murphy's finishing time in the Greek capital of 3:39.51 was a then Irish record and he went on to improve his 1500m personal best to 3:38.5.

The Irishman, a member of the Clonliffe Harriers club, had earlier beaten Whetton in 1969 at the prestigious British AAA's Championships.

Murphy competed at a second Olympics in Munich before the Irish mile baton was picked up by the great Eamonn Coghlan, who like Murphy and Delany, was guided at Villanova by the legendary coach Jumbo Elliott.

In recent years, Murphy battled against Parkinson's disease and he passed away in a nursing home on Thursday.

Coghlan has been among many people connected with Irish athletics to pay tribute to the late Dubliner, who also had impressive 800m and mile personal bests of 1:47.4 and 3:58.1.

Eamonn Coghlan's tweet after Frank Murphy's death

An Athletics Ireland statement said that the Irish governing body was "deeply saddened" to hear of Murphy's death.

Murphy was inducted into Athletics Ireland's hall of fame in 2014.

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