Sunday 22 July 2018

'The expectation is on Corofin to win, there is no pressure on us' - Murray

Moorefield’s James Murray. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Moorefield’s James Murray. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Not since Offaly's sensational smash-and-grab in the 1994 All-Ireland SHC final has there been a high-profile comeback like Moorefield's pick-pocketing of St Loman's in last year's Leinster club SFC decider.

While the Faithful hit an unanswered 2-5 to break Limerick hearts, Moorefield's heroics were equally as impressive. Six points down with six minutes to play is a huge deficit in football and to score 1-4 without reply was astonishing.

Goal-scorer Ronan Sweeney, free-taker Éanna O'Connor and match-winner Kevin Murnaghan will get deserved plaudits for many years to come but few were more influential than James Murray, who was at the heart of the revival.

Scorer of two points from centre-back, the 24-year-old surged forward in spectacular fashion to tee up Sweeney for the crucial goal before making a vital block which was eventually recycled up the field for Murnaghan to secure their second provincial title.

"You couldn't write it," Murray said of the Leinster final win. "I don't think anybody in the stadium gave us a chance. And ourselves too, we probably had doubts whether we were going to do it or not."

That type of resurrection is nothing new for Ross Glavin's side, however, as they survived two-thirds of their county final win with 13 men and also trailed Portlaoise by five points with the full-time whistle fast approaching.

They've come a long way in 12 months, champions of Leinster despite not being the best side in Newbridge for the past few years, having played second fiddle to town rival Sarsfields.

Glavin has instilled a belief that can't be broken and having played in their previous AIB All-Ireland club SFC semi-final, he is passing on words of wisdom ahead of their meeting with 2015 kingpins Corofin in O'Connor Park on Saturday (2.0).

Murray was 13 and in the stands when they fell to Dr Crokes after a replay in 2007 but recalls it like it was yesterday and is adamant that they will not be overawed by the challenge.

"In previous years, we were too focused on being the best team in Newbridge and the best team in Kildare. At the start of this year, we sat down and said we wanted to win an All-Ireland and win a Leinster.

"The management have kept saying to us that this is going to be our year, that we'll win the All-Ireland."

As a primary school teacher in the Scoil na Naomh Uilig in the town, Murray is in the thick of the rivalry between the neighbouring clubs but Glavin's words have come to pass as 2017 saw them take all honours before them.

Murray feels the acquisition of former Kerry manager Jack O'Connor - whose sons Éanna and Cian play important roles for 'The Moores' - has also been of great assistance in an all-conquering run.

"Jack only comes down once or twice a month, but it is great to hear an All-Ireland winning manager telling us what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong at training. And he just gives us that confidence that this is going to be our year," the former Kildare minor and U-21 player said.

Murray is expected to be introduced into the senior fold by club-mate and Lilies boss Cian O'Neill at the end of their campaign but for now, it's all about the green jersey.

A visit from the legendary Christy Moore, who had a brief playing career with Moorefield, was a welcome distraction ahead of the Corofin clash but Murray insists they have nothing to lose.

"The expectation is on them to win and there is no pressure on us. The pressure is on them."

Irish Independent

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