Saturday 14 December 2019

The man charged with keeping Martin O'Neill's Irish squad off the treatment table and on the pitch will be anxiously watching a different group of footballers in Clones this afternoon.

Ciarán MURRAY (Former Monaghan footballer)

The man charged with keeping Martin O'Neill's Irish squad off the treatment table and on the pitch will be anxiously watching a different group of footballers in Clones this afternoon.

Ciarán Murray has put his experience as the centre-back on Monaghan's Ulster championship-winning teams of 1985 and 1988 to good use as physiotherapist to the Republic of Ireland for the past 18 years but it is Monaghan's fortunes that concern him in his home town today.

Murray grew up in Clones, where his family ran a pub, so the magic of Ulster final day was a colourful part of childhood summers. The 1988 All Star winner was joined on the team by his brother Brendan.

"It was great to get two wins as it is so hard to get to an Ulster final and even harder to get back into it. It was a great feeling but it is all about the game, all about winning and the sense of achievement but there is a lot at stake and we also knew about the disappointment of losing."

That first title brought with it personal recognition in the shape of an All Star which he describes as, "a pretty special moment and it was a great honour to get picked, especially coming from one of the smaller counties".

A succession of knee injuries forced him to call time on his playing career while still in his 20s. He moved to Dundalk, where he has his physiotherapy practice, to work in the Louth Hospital in 1994 and has lived there with his wife and family since. Two years later, he says, he was in the right place at the right time when the FAI expanded its medical staff and he was brought on board.

Murray has been to the 2002 World Cup and the 2012 European Championships, witnessing some of the greatest triumphs and lowest moments in Irish soccer but it is a job he loves. "I work as part of a team alongside Dr Alan Byrne and the rest of the physiotherapy staff. It is a very busy job but I enjoy it. There is a lot of tension and excitement in the build-up to games."

He tries to get to Dundalk home games whenever he can and as many of Monaghan's championship matches as his schedule allows. He is proud of this generation of Monaghan stars, and knows many of them, having played alongside their fathers. "They are a very intelligent team and if they play to their potential, they should be there or thereabouts."

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