Murray brought the best out of dedicated panel
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.