*Gavin Murray. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography
THERE WAS a certain element of home comforts for Clare midfielder Gavin Murray as he took to the field in Cusack Park, Mullingar on Sunday.
A former U21 footballer and senior panellist with Westmeath, Gavin is in his first season on the Clare senior football panel and has become a first choice midfielder with Brian McNamara.
Lining out against his native county was a unique experience for Gavin. “You try take the emotion out of it and focus on the game and task at hand but definitely it was unique waking up this morning in my own bed in Moate and joining the lads to get ready. It was a bittersweet feeling, we left our hearts out there today and I thought we were heroic at times, a few clinical things at the end could have made the difference, it is tough to put it into words. Westmeath are regarded as one of the top teams in the division and we put it up to them today, we showed the heart that is in that jersey”.
His level of familiarity with the players in Maroon saw him well acquainted with Ray Connellan in the middle of their park and he picked up a yellow card at the end of the opening half, such was his friendliness with Connellan. “We would have a good rivalry with Athlone and Moate All Whites down through the years and I would have marked Ray a good few times before. We fought as if our lives depended on it and we tried to manage the game as best we could in the second half. We’re doing our best for the Clare jersey and that is what is needed going forward, some people have wrote us off and when you look at some of the names on paper that have left us maybe justifiably so but I think we showed some unity out there”.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, Gavin said he is really enjoying his first year on the Clare panel and his growing midfield partnership with Brian McNamara. “Brian has many characteristics I wouldn’t have in terms of aerial ability and I try to help him out on the ground as much as I can, it is a really enjoyable place to be at the moment, personally as someone coming in it has been really welcoming too, while it is regretful we didn’t get the win”.
Last year saw him transfer to Éire Óg and forming part of Paul Madden’s squad has assisted him in getting back to inter-county pace. “I was fortunate with the set-up that Paul Madden has in Éire Óg that it is almost inter-county standard in a way, that year playing with those great players that are there really got me up a level coming down from Westmeath, it’s been seamless coming up to the Clare set up since, I’ve lots to learn but there’s always a welcoming hand to help me do that, I’m really enjoying it and long may it last”.
Reflecting on their one point loss to Westmeath, Murray pointed to their concession of an early goal and shipping five points without reply in the third quarter as crucial. “All in all I think we did quite well and kept them back to minimise their scoring chances, the second half was different, those few minutes by the third quarter where they got five points in a row, while we don’t like cynicism maybe we needed to go down. I think we can’t fault the effort and at the end of the day that is all we’re looking for, leave the hearts out there and what more can you ask”.
Belief is strong within the Clare panel that they can get back to Division 2 of the National Football League. That belief has been nurtured.. When we put on the Clare jersey we pride ourselves on what we bring to the table in terms of workrate and effort”.
Off the field, Gavin was recently one of eighteen graduates to join AirNav Ireland the Irish Air Navigation Service Provider. His work is now based in Ballycasey in Shannon, “I’m really enjoying life down in Clare and playing with Éire Óg and Clare, the people are very welcoming so I’m looking forward to the next few years in the Éire Óg and Clare jersey as well”.