Matthew Murnaghan making a huge impact with Killyclogher
MATTHEW Murnaghan is living the dream in the unforgiving and fiercely challenging world of Tyrone championship football.
The 18-year-old schoolboy has made a sensational impact since being called into the Killyclogher senior squad just a few weeks ago.
With a man-of-the-match display in the quarter-final win over reigning champions Omagh, the flying wing-back announced his arrival on the big stage, hitting four points from play to help his side to this weekend’s last four clash with Ardboe.
And with disarming humility, he puts it all down to luck.
“I have been so lucky the way it has worked out for me. I only started training with the seniors after the minors finished and we got beaten in the final,” he said.
The exciting teenager has immersed himself in the family atmosphere surrounding the squad as it puts the finishing touches at Ballinamullan to preparations for Sunday’s last four meeting with Ardboe at Carrickmore.
“There’s a great buzz going around the squad, with everybody pushing each other on.
“Training this last couple of weeks has been intense, and every single session has been brilliant, and that’s where we need to be to play at the top level.”
Killyclogher were crowned champions in 2016, but crashed out early last year in a shock first round defeat to newly promoted Pomeroy.
This season, the team has been freshened up by the introduction of a handful of young prospects, including Murnaghan, who displayed all his talents as they toppled neighbours and O’Neill Cup holders Omagh.
“It was just one of those days that things seemed to go right, but I’ll take it.”
Manager Dominic Corrigan knows he has a precious nugget on his hands, and values the contribution that the younger squad members can make.
“Mattie was outstanding, man of the match by a distance.
“I was particularly pleased with our young players. It’s great to see the youth and the experience gelling, and if we keep going like this, then we’re going to be in with a chance of making another county final,” said Corrigan.
The win over Omagh was made all the more special for the Murnaghan family as older sibling Luke came off the bench to score the only goal of the game with his first touch.
“That was an important part of the game that really got us going again,” said Matthew.
“I don’t think they went ahead again after it, so it was a big moment for us.”
Murnaghan is confident that with the same drive and desire that they displayed against Omagh, Killyclogher can reach a third county final in four years.
“We have to take each game as it comes, but that’s where we want to be.
“We went a point down, and we dug deep, and showed the heart that we didn’t have last year, and that’s what lifted us and got us over the line at the end.
“It was the same story for us last year against Pomeroy, and we didn’t come out the right side of it.
“But it was a derby match, and that helped us lift ourselves for it.”