Mur­ray brought the best out of ded­i­cated panel

Wicklow People (Arklow) - - SPORT -

MICK MUR­RAY isn’t a fan of foot­ballers do­ing laps, but when you get off the phone from speak­ing with the Hol­ly­wood man­ager days after he has guided the west Wick­low club to an im­me­di­ate re­turn to Se­nior foot­ball you feel like you’d be able to do about 25 of them into the teeth of a northerly gale.

The rea­son be­ing is the de­ter­mi­na­tion and the pas­sion that ex­udes from the man’s voice. He be­lieves that some of his Hol­ly­wood charges may still be cel­e­brat­ing in hostel­ries but for Mur­ray it’s all about the next game.

His heart is filled with pride fol­low­ing the com­pre­hen­sive vic­tory over Dunlavin in the Intermediate foot­ball fi­nal but you get the sense from talk­ing to Mick that he wants more, plenty more. A cham­pi­onship vic­tory will mean noth­ing to these Hol­ly­wood play­ers, their fam­i­lies and their com­mu­nity if all the hard work is un­done next sea­son when they reac­quaint them­selves with the top ta­ble ar­range­ments.

Mick says he told his play­ers be­fore they went out on the field on Saturday evening that vic­tory for them would also be a vic­tory for all the small clubs in the county, all the cross­road clubs, the ru­ral clubs, who strug­gle with num­bers and em­i­gra­tion and the raft of other dif­fi­cul­ties they face on a daily ba­sis. His play­ers re­sponded. They were su­perb to a man.

This time last year things weren’t so pretty in that mag­nif­i­cent fa­cil­ity just a stone’s throw from the N81. Mick Mur­ray got the call and had been plan­ning on tak­ing a break. The pull was too great. Im­me­di­ately, how­ever, he could see changes were needed.

“I changed the whole struc­ture of their train­ing,” said Mick in a very mod­est tone. “Even their warm ups were pre­his­toric, it was all static stretch­ing, there was no dy­namic stuff at all. We got some money for ba­sic equip­ment for the gym, the likes of prowlers and sleds. You can’t be­come faster or quicker or stronger un­less you do the right train­ing. It’s like if you’ve ever had to push start a car, you might have only pushed it 20 years but you’re bet. That’s what the likes of the prowlers and the sleds are about. They give lads mas­sive legs and then you can go faster and quicker. That’s how we im­proved things. And the lads loved it. It wasn’t bor­ing, there were no laps and we also had high in­ten­sity ball drills, work­ing a lot with the ball be­cause that’s what you’re going to be do­ing on the field,” he said.

Mur­ray’s ap­proach worked. Hol­ly­wood were trans­formed. Play­ers in­vested, play­ers turned up in big num­bers at train­ing. Things im­proved. Mo­men­tum gath­ered. Per­haps one of the key mo­ments where Mick Mur­ray re­alised where his squad was at was dur­ing a re­cent prac­tice match against Dublin Se­nior club Synge Street. The Dublin out­fit were with­out the likes of O’Gara and Ba­stick but they were still a very for­mi­da­ble out­fit and Mur­ray says the Hol­ly­wood lads played them off the field to go in six points up at the break. Nine changes to the start­ing 15 fol­lowed and the west out­fit emerged with a draw. That’s when Mur­ray could re­ally gauge the im­prove­ment.

Mick Mur­ray feels for Dunlavin but he says that their de­fen­sive sys­tem was “ter­ri­ble” and that they left huge gaps at the back which his strong-run­ning Hol­ly­wood out­fit ex­ploited all through the game and they har­vested five goals in the process.

One thing about the Hol­ly­wood team on Saturday evening that was very no­tice­able was their struc­ture and their will­ing run­ners from deep.

The likes of Éoin Burke and the hugely im­pres­sive Mikey Healy at cen­tre-half back spring to mind.

Mick Mur­ray says that he’s not a big fan of sweep­ers but he is a big sup­porter of play­ing clever foot­ball with play­ers drop­ping back to cover run­ners.

The ef­fec­tive­ness of his tac­tics proved ruth­less on Saturday.

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