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Dublin: 14 °C Saturday 21 September, 2019
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Murray settling into new surroundings after departure from double winners

The Sligo Rovers man will be playing for a new club this season for the third consecutive year.

Ronan Murray pictured alongside the Premier Division trophy at the launch of the 2019 SSE Airtricity League season.
Ronan Murray pictured alongside the Premier Division trophy at the launch of the 2019 SSE Airtricity League season.
Image: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

RONAN MURRAY RECKONS a new-look Sligo Rovers team is capable of being successful — but they’ll need time to gel during the 2019 season.

If they manage to do so, the 27-year-old attacker believes the Bit o’ Red could be in a position to challenge at the top end of the table next year.

Murray is one of several new faces at the Showgrounds ahead of the new campaign, having joined Rovers from double winners Dundalk.

After spending nearly a decade in England, where he played for the likes of Ipswich Town and Notts County, Murray returned home to join Galway United for the 2017 season. In spite of the Tribesmen’s relegation, he was named in the PFAI Team of the Year.

He was then snapped up by Dundalk and won Premier Division and FAI Cup medals with the Lilywhites. However, amid intense competition for places at Oriel Park, Murray was restricted to just 11 starts in the league last season. 

“That was one of the main reasons I left,” he admits. “I loved Dundalk and I don’t have a bad word to say about the club. But for my own sake, the best thing for me to do was to go and play for Sligo. Hopefully I’ll do that plenty this year.”

Ronan Murray lifts the trophy Murray holding the silverware aloft after Dundalk were crowned 2018 Premier Division champions. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Coincidentally, Sligo’s opening fixture is away to Dundalk tomorrow evening, although Murray is rated as doubtful to feature against his former club due to an ankle injury.

In his first season in charge of Sligo, Liam Buckley has made a host of new signings. In addition to Murray, Jamaican international Romeo Parkes, Nigerian recruit Brendan Ogbu and former Glentoran striker Daryl Fordyce have bolstered their attacking options.

At the back, Bermuda’s international captain Dante Leverock, ex-Stoke City U23 skipper Lewis Banks and former Cork City captain Johnny Dunleavy have come in. 

“It’s good to be back closer to home. I’m enjoying it,” says Murray, a native of Belmullet in Mayo. “For a club with a new management system and plenty of new players, things are going as well as they possibly could.

“This is an exciting season for Sligo. Hopefully we can get a few good results on the board early and get the fans on our side, especially at home. If we can have a steady season this year to build for next year, with a few more signings we could be there or thereabouts next season.”

In addition to his role at Sligo Rovers, Murray works as a personal trainer at home in Belmullet. When his stint in England came to an end, he decided that it was time to start preparing for life after football.

Soccer - Sky Bet League One - Brentford v Notts County - Griffin Park Murray, during his time at Notts County, challenging Jonathan Douglas of Brentford. Source: Adam Davy

However, he’s adamant that his additional commitment isn’t detrimental to his football. The former Ireland U21 international is still determined to get the best from himself on the pitch.

“Soccer doesn’t last forever so I wanted to see what other interests I had when I came back from England. The money genuinely isn’t there in the League of Ireland to sustain yourself,” he explains.

“There’s a lot to be said for looking after yourself for after your career, because no one else is really going to do it. I have a big emphasis on that now, but it doesn’t take away from my soccer ambitions. It’s just an add-on to my life and it’s something I enjoy.” 

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Paul Dollery

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