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'That feeling and desire had left me through injuries and the different setbacks I had in England'

After feeling disillusioned abroad, Ronan Murray is enjoying his football again with Galway.

Ronan Murray found life difficult when playing in England.
Ronan Murray found life difficult when playing in England.
Image: EMPICS Sport

GALWAY’S RONAN MURRAY is just happy to be enjoying his football again after a difficult spell in England.

The 26-year-old attacker, who has been named SSE Airtricity/SWAI Player of the Month for August, had previous stints with Ipswich and Notts County, before moving closer to home and joining Galway United.

And three league goals as well as an FAI Cup hat-trick against Killester in recent times suggest Murray is playing with a smile on his face again, after linking up with the Premier Division side last year.

“I’ve enjoyed every single minute of it, even if the results on a Friday night haven’t always been what we wanted,” he says. “But when you play the likes of Cork and Dundalk, the intensity they play with week in week out, it shows how high the standard is at the top and you want to show you can play at that level when you come up against them, you strive to compete with them at that level.

“I feel as if I came home from England with a freshness, I wasn’t enjoying it over there and I wanted to get back to feeling like a 15, 16, 17-year-old again, trying my hardest in every game and wanting to impress.

That feeling and desire had left me through injuries and the different setbacks I had in England. That sort of stuff, those difficulties, get on top of you over there.

“You hear about footballers talking about falling out of love with the game and people will wonder how that can be.

But when you’re on that side of things, it’s a business environment and the love and the heart starts to go out of it. It’s constantly money driven and I’m glad that I have come back to my roots.

“I’m not saying that I wasn’t giving it my all on a Saturday but when you have that love for the game, it definitely helps to find an extra five, 10% you might need in training to keep working as hard as possible. I’ve started to like the game a lot more.”

unnamed Ronan Murray poses with the player-of-the-month gong. Source: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

While delighted that his recent efforts were recognised in the form of the player-of-the-month accolade, Murray insists he would swap it “10 times out of 10 to get the club out of the current position and I believe we can get out of it”.

With six games to play, Galway are 11th on 26 points, with Finn Harps in ninth on 30 points one club they will almost certainly need to surpass to avoid relegation.

While most critics consider Shane Keegan’s men as strong candidates for the drop at this late stage of the season, Murray and his team-mates are remaining optimistic.

It comes from the top, from Shane [Keegan] and from the more senior players. The likes of David Cawley, Stephen Folan, Colm Horgan is our captain. I see myself as one of those now too and we have to keep everyone on their toes.

“We’re only looking to the Derry game, but we all know that there are six games left and they are six Cup finals for us. We have to keep our energy levels high and go for it.”

The forward is unsure why his club have found themselves in such a perilous position, but admits performances have not been good enough overall.

It’s hard to put a finger on just one reason. All of us, our footballers, we all like to play and maybe there has been a naivety on that side of things, trying to play in the wrong places at the wrong time and that has killed us.

“Teams have capitalised on that and at the other end, we’re not making the most of the chances we have made, so that has been a problem too.

The table doesn’t lie in September, but we haven’t been in bad form for the last couple months. It’s all about getting results from here on in and whether we play the best football in the world or the worst, it doesn’t matter once we win games.

“I feel as if we have shown that fighting spirit from day one and we have a tight-knit group here who will battle together too. We believe we should be higher in the table but there have been times when we have let ourselves down.”

On a different note, hailing from Mayo, Murray naturally has a keen interest in this weekend’s All-Ireland SFC final. A big GAA fan, he is still hoping to attend the game, despite a sparsity of tickets available for the climactic Croke Park encounter.

It’s all that’s on anybody’s mind. It’s the only topic of conversation and who can get tickets. I’m hoping to go, fingers crossed. Where I’m from, Belmullet, it’s very rural. And other than the beautiful views and the times we get nice weather, sport is the focal point for everyone.

“Whether it’s a sliotar, a football, or a soccer ball, you pick it up and play, and that’s what I did. I played GAA for the club (Belmullet) until I was 15 and then I had to give it up for the soccer when I signed (for Ipswich). I had the choice to make and I made the soccer one.”

Meanwhile, when he’s not playing football, Murray works in a gym doing personal fitness.

Football isn’t going to last forever so I’m getting some experience on this side of things with the fitness,” he adds.

“I’m touching on it and juggling the two for now, football and fitness. One keeps the mind off the other, so you’re not bogged down and in that same old routine all the time.  I like to help people out too and I’ve found a passion for it — I like it.”

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