Tom Murphy – My Sports Psychology Degree Will Help Me Inspire Children

Alumni of Psychology, Coaching and PE


Tom Murphy had no interest in a sports psychology degree when he was 15 years old.

He had just left Ireland. He was sharing a training pitch with Wayne Rooney and Seamus Coleman at Everton. School was now 1.5 days per week and that wasn’t much of a challenge. Tom had finished his Junior Cert, but would return to Ireland just in time to watch all of his friends do the Leaving Cert without him.

Like so many teenagers who pursue their soccer dreams in England, Tom found himself left in limbo when he returned to Ireland at 18 years of age.

UCD Soccer offered him the opportunity to continue to be a goalkeeper at a relatively high level, but that was all it did, “To be honest it didn’t do too much for me. To be fair to Portobello, they reached out to me again. I went in and had a chat with George Boylan there. That really kicked it all off. I went into the sports psychology degree.” 

George, the sports course advisor at the time, had a sporting background which made it easier for Tom to relate to him. He would soon discover that all of the Portobello Sports lecturers had similar sporting backgrounds.

“Even though I had done an access course in UCD it was only allowing me entry into an arts degree or something like that whereas Portobello was giving me the option to do Sports Therapy, Sports Science or Performance Analysis in a full-time degree and I was getting a degree quicker than some people would elsewhere with the option to go on and do a masters as well which was even better.” 

Tom’s mother was a teacher, and even though she never forced education on him, he had always valued it. It was no surprise he chose the sports psychology degree as his path.

“When I was coming home it was about getting back into education. I didn’t want to be coming home and being left with nothing. Especially when I was only going to be turning 18 when I came home. 

With having this sports psychology degree, this is going to open up so many avenues for me. Let’s say if I go back over [to England], if a club is interested in me I can go and say to them…as well as being a player I can come in and be a sports psychologist for your academy so I’m cutting the costs for them straight away. 

Then if I was staying in Ireland if I want to go into the sports psychology industry myself, I have that experience where I’ve experienced it as a player as well. In that industry it makes me more appealing as I experienced it as a player but I also have my degrees in behind it to back up the stuff as well. It’s given me that kind of avenue to really explore.” 

The BSc (Hons) Sports Psychology, Coaching and PE degree at Portobello Institute isn’t just a sports psychology degree. The specific modules Tom has studied have allowed him to fast track through courses away from Portobello.

He has already studied to be a personal trainer and gym instructor.

“If I start up my own business, I’ll have the sports psychology degree there with the playing experience and the PT stuff. And to be honest I haven’t heard of many people in sport who’ve actually qualified through psychology that have played at certain levels as well so that’s where I see the opportunity there.” 

Living in Wicklow, Tom has recognized how younger athletes are being drawn into Dublin in pursuit of better facilities and coaching. He wants to rectify that by building a training complex that will offer young sportspeople the opportunities to work with versatile support staffs from a young age. 

But that’s the future.

For now, Tom is turning down offers to go back abroad and play football professionally because of how much he’s enjoying building for his future at Portobello with his sports psychology degree. 

“I really, really enjoy doing my college course and I recommend to everybody to do it, to get into something like that because now in the last few weeks I’ve had two or three more offers from clubs abroad and I’ve said no, I’ve no interest in going because I want to finish my college degree. 

With this course, obviously my main interest is the sports psychology degree, but it gives me the option to enter into PE teaching and stuff like that. Anybody I talk to I just want to make them aware of it because of what it’s done for me.

It’s going to give me a career outside of football that I hopefully will be able to balance two things that I really do enjoy. With this sports psychology degree it’s allowing me to build a career both on and off the field that I know for a fact I’m really going to enjoy going forward.

I can’t wait to get back in for third year.”

Tom Murphy – My Sports Psychology Degree Will Help Me Inspire Children Tom Murphy – My Sports Psychology Degree Will Help Me Inspire Children