Lámh Dhearg start defence of Antrim SFC with a family affair
WITH Conor sidelined through injury, the other two Murray siblings, Ryan and Kevin, will go up against each other this weekend as Aghagallon look to spring an upset on Antrim champions Lámh Dhearg.
Kevin, the eldest, was a long-serving figure for the Hannahstown men in his playing days, and is now in charge of the up-and-coming St Mary’s. Fate would do nothing less than pit the two clubs together in the championship.
Lámh Dhearg last year won their first title on the pitch since 1971 but, with a host of young players on the way through and a strong showing against the Lámhs in the league, Aghagallon will fancy their chances.
“It’ll be interesting to see on Sunday morning if he turns up for his weekly fry in my Mum’s house,” laughed Ryan Murray.
Kevin’s son Ross and daughter Robyn both play for Lámh Dhearg and Ryan says the pair have been at the heart of the entertainment since the draw was made.
“Generally a Sunday morning, Kevin has a son and daughter playing for Lámh Dhearg, me and Conor play, Kevin played for years and every Sunday there’d be a fry going on the Mum’s house, and the general chat would be football.
“The usual carry-on. Robyn and Ross keep the craic going. They play for Lámh Dhearg, they always come off with a few slags at the dinner table to keep it all humourous.
“It’s an interesting build-up. From my point of view it’s no different but it might be a bit harder for Kevin, he’s a Lamh Dhearg clubman managing Aghagallon, so all his efforts are going there and he’ll be hoping to end Lámh Dhearg’s summer this year.
”We’re close as brothers, all three of us, so football won’t get in the way of that too much.”
The holders are priced as fifth favourites with the bookmakers to retain their title, behind a resurgent St Gall’s, Cargin, Creggan and the St John’s side they beat in last year’s decider.
Murray admits that the race is even more open than it was twelve months ago, but that it bodes well for Antrim football.
“I think it’s set up to be very open. That’s probably the way you want the championship to be. That’s how it was last year and this year looks the same.
“From a supporter point of view and a general Antrim viewpoint, it’s good to see a competitive championship where everyone can beat the opposition on their day.
“We wouldn’t be having any thoughts any further down the line than this weekend.”
Conor Murray is sidelined with a cruciate knee ligament injury. He recently underwent an operation for that but is expected to be sidelined until at least the end of the National League.