|Date Of Birth:||6-Oct-1958|
|Place Of Birth:||Dublin|
|Debut:||26-Aug-84, League Cup, St Patrick's Ath., (a) 2-2|
“… the most majestic mid-field orchestrator to wear the Dundalk colours in the modern era…gifted with sublime ball skills and an innate football brain…the quintessential creative mid-field operator…strong in the air… able to curb the threat of physically much bigger players… his heading ability was a valuable part of Dundalk’s armoury… a commanding presence in his own penalty box, and able to snatch his share of goals in the opposition box…”
In a senior playing career spanning 24 seasons, and covering more than 600 games, Martin Murray became a legend at four clubs—Home Farm, Drogheda, Dundalk and Crusaders—and his many Dundalk fans would maintain that he became a Dundalk legend twice over, once as player and later as manager. And there was hardly a season when he wasn’t centrally involved in the football stories of the day, more often than not he was the one creating the headlines.
1974-75…He was just past his 16th birthday when he made his first team debut with Home Farm on January 26th 1975, scoring in a 3-2 victory over Finn Harps at Tolka Park. Before the season ended he had become the youngest player ever to win an FAI Cup medal, after the Dave Bacuzzi-managed Home Farm had downed a bunch of big names—Dundalk, Cork Celtic, St Patrick’s Athletic—enroute to a 1-0 final victory over Shelbourne.
1975-76…Now a first team regular, he played in both legs of the European Cup Winner’s Cup against French club Lyon. By December he was on his way to Goodison Park, signed for Everton by Billy Bingham.
1976-77…Already in possession of an Under-15 cap, he earned his first Youth International cap against Holland and plays for Everton in the final of the FA Youth Cup final, defeated 1-0 on aggregate over two legs by Crystal Palace.
1977-78…He scores in his first Under 21 Cap in a 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland and adds further caps against Poland, Mexico, France and Iran.
1978-79…Returns to Home Farm on loan but collapsed after a game (a faulty valve is diagnosed), and returns to Everton. Before the season ends he has added further Under 21 caps, bringing his collection to eight.
1979-80…In an Everton reserve game against Leeds at Elland Road he suffers a ruptured cruciate ligament.
1980-81…The combination of injury and heart condition force him to quit Everton and he returns to Home Farm. After a half dozen games he signs for Drogheda United, scoring on his December debut in a 3-0 victory over St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park, the other two coming from player-manager Ray Treacy.
1981-82…Martin’s performances under manager Ray Treacy secure a berth on the League of Ireland squad for a prestigious trip to play against Brazil.
1982-83…Treacy’s contribution was to make Drogheda a more professional outfit, and his successor Tony Macken reaped the rewards with a second place League finish in 1982-83 (edging out Dundalk on the last day) and qualification for the UEFA Cup. Martin is selected PFAI Player of the Year and spends part of the summer on trial with Nottingham Forrest but Everton’s prior rights prevent a deal.
1983-84…Martin is heavily involved in Drogheda’s first European venture, against Tottenham Hotspur, and in securing their first ever piece of silverware when defeating Athlone Town in the January 1984 League Cup final. But reports of dressing room bust ups didn’t help the League cause. In March Martin was involved in a car crash and missed the rest of the season.
1984-85…Tommy Connolly had secured Martin’s signature and his first Dundalk line out was against Glasgow Celtic on July 31st 1984. There was a nervous end to the season, with the bottom four teams being relegated to a new Premier/DivisionOne set up.
1985-86…New manager Turlough O’Connor gives a strong signal of his intent, with a runner-up spot in the League Cup, losing to Galway in the final, and a third place league finish just three points behind the winners.
1986-87…Martin’s trophy cabinet begins to fill up with the further advancement of O’Connor’s assault on the honours and he ends up with a League Cup memento, after defeating Shamrock Rovers 1-0 in the final, thanks to a Murray penalty. Unfortunately all other mementos were of a minor colour with two runner-up spots to Shamrock Rovers, in the League and FAI Cup. Martin’s 13 goals gave him the title of Club Topscorer.
1987-88…The mighty Ajax Amsterdam were opponents for the European Cup Winner’s Cup, but the story of this season was the Cup-League Double, with everything hinging on the last half-dozen games. At midfield with Larry Wyse and Barry Kehoe, Martin played a central role in a series of memorable key games in the run-in from early March, terminating with a one-point League Championship victory and a 1-0 FAI Cup final win over Derry City.
Awarded the Irish Independent’s Sports Star of the Week, the citation read: “No one epitomised the sheer professionalism of Dundalk in last Sunday’s Cup final than Martin Murray.
1988-89…More European action, this time against Red Star Belgrade, and two more runner-up spots, each to Derry City, first in the League Cup and later in the League.
1989-90…An early season injury kept Martin on the bench for both legs of the UEFA Cup tie against Swiss club Wettingen., but he was back in time to collect his second League Cup Winner’s award when Cork were overcome at Oriel Park in a penalty shoot out, after a 1-1 result with extra time.
1990-91…Now on the north side of thirty, Martin decided to semi-retire and played with Ashtown Villa in the Leinster League, but the hankering for the real McCoy was very strong and he joined St Patrick’s Athletic in January 1991. During the summer he got a call from Turlough O’Connor, suggesting he go North. By July he had signed for Crusaders and made his debut on August 20th against Carrick Rangers.
Crusaders 1991-92 to 1997-98
Martin Murray was the first of a series of Dublin players signed for Crusaders by manager Roy Walker in the 1990s. In addition to Martin, the Dublin brigade in time would include Robbie Lawlor, Derek Carroll, Peter Eccles, Aaron Callaghan, Liam Dunne and Mick Deegan.
In a period of unprecedented club success, Martin earned the title ‘The Pride of Seaview’ and shared in, and played a key role in all the club’s successes during his 7-season stay.
His Crusader’s successes included:
Irish League Champions 1994-95 and 1996-97; Runners Up 1992-93 (on goal difference) and 1995-96.
League Cup Winners 1996-97; Runners Up 1995-96
Gold Cup Winners 1995-96; Runners Up 1994-95.
Ulster Cup Winner 1993-94; Runners Up 1991-92, 1996-97.
Co. Antrim Shield Winners 1991-92; Runners Up 1993-94, 1995-96.
At the end of the Championship-winning 1994-95 term he was one of a half-dozen Crusader’s players to be chosen by the NI Soccer Writers Association on the Smirnoff All-Stars Team of the Year.
He played his last game in a 1-1 draw with Ards on Nov 26th 1997 and the match report’s player ratings credited him with 7 out of 10—there was no higher match rating!
In the match programme for his testimonial game against Linfield (May 1998) a contributor described him as follows:
“The skilful, deft control, the immaculate distribution, the superb timing to win these important flick-ons, and above all his enthusiasm and competitiveness, ensured that he became one of the most influential Irish League middle-of-the-park generals of the entire decade.”
The following March he underwent heart surgery and his testimonial followed in May. He started in his testimonial and his 6-year old son was match mascot. Considered washed up when he joined the Crues, he was in his fortieth year when he cashed his chips and had clocked up 265 games over six and a bit seasons.
He had been involved in 15 European games with five clubs—Home Farm (2), Drogheda (2), Dundalk (4), Bohemians (3) and Crusaders (4). His involvement with Bohemians was in the summer of 1995, when he was signed on a temporary basis by Turlough O’Connor exclusively for Boh’s Inter Toto Cup commitments. Martin played in the first three ties, starting against Odense and making substitute appearances against HJK Helsinki and Bordeaux (for whom Zidane scored in a 2-0 victory).
He returned to Crusaders as manager in June 1999, following the resignation of Aaron Callaghan but lasted only a season, due to a combination of financial constraints and the onerous travelling from Dublin. He wasn’t long out of a job, replacing Terry Eviston as Dundalk manager for the 2000-01 season, quickly moving to sign Martin Reilly, Liam Dunne and Aaron Callaghan from his old club.
He stiffened the squad further with the addition of the experienced Greg O’Dowd, Ian Hill, Tommy Byrne, Eoin Mullan and Donal Broughan, leading Dundalk back to the Premier Division and Murray’s high standing, earned as a player, was raised to the hero-worship status. But returning to the Premier Division was the easy bit—staying there proved a might bit more difficult.
A batch of newcomers—Stephen McGuinness, Jonathon Prizeman, Ciaran Kavanagh, Gary Haylock and James Keddy—grafted on to the mainly local element of the First Division squad—Hoey, Crawley, Flanagan, Lawless, Whyte and Ward—proved inadequate to the demands of the Premier Division. In spite of some late season heroics, a single point separated Dundalk from safety.
But the 2001-02 season was not short on heroics and Murray’s fan-stature went up several notches when against all the odds he delivered the FAI Cup, after a sensational 4-0 Oriel Park semi-final caning of Shamrock Rovers and then overcoming red-hot favourites Bohemians in the final by 2-1 after the Dubliners had taken a 40th minute lead.
After an aggregate 9-0 defeat to Croatian side Vartreks in the UEFA Cup early in 2002-03, and a first round Cup exit to Shamrock Rovers there remained just the First Division League. But a series of dreadful home performances terminated in a shameful 4-2 September loss to an Athlone Town team run on a shoe string, after Dundalk had taken a 4-minute lead.
Martin Murray’s frustrations lead to his banishment from the sideline and it was no surprise afterwards when he tendered his resignation saying he didn’t think he was the one to deliver the swift kick the players needed.
The club programme tribute following his departure was very appropriate:
“Both as a player, and as manager of the Cup-winning team, Martin Murray has been one of the most popular and successful figures in the history of Dundalk FC. The dignified manner of his departure, and the good wishes that accompanied him as he left, suggests that he will continue to be held in high regard by Dundalk supporters for a long time to come.”
What They Said About Him
Irish Independent Sports Star of the Week May 6, 1988
No one epitomised the sheer professionalism of Dundalk in last Sunday’s FAI Cup final than former Everton player, Martin Murray.
Advised some time ago to give up the game because of a heart complaint, he capped an outstanding season for the Border club by providing an inspirational midfield display.
The 29-year-old playmaker consistently proved a thorn in Derry City’s side, covering virtually every square yard of Dalymount Park with a selfless, sensible contribution.
For that, he is a worthy Sports Star of the Week.
4 Wins: League and FAI Cup 1987-88; League Cup 1986-87, 1989-90.
6 Runners Up: League 1986-87, 1988-89; FAI Cup 1986-87; League Cup 1985-86, 1988-89; Presidents Cup 1986-87.
1 LOI Cap
Irish Independent Sportstar of the Week Award
|St Patrick's A||1990-91||7(4)|
|LOI 13 Seasons||249(25)||49|
|European Competition Player Stats|
|Home Farm||1975-76||CWC||2 (0) 0|
|Drogheda Utd||1983-84||UFC||2 (0) 0|
|Dundalk||1987-88||CWC||2 (0) 0|
|Dundalk||1988-89||EUC||2 (0) 0|
|Crusaders||1993-94||UFC||2 (0) 0|
|Bohemians||1995-96||ITC||1 (2) 0|
|Crusaders||1996-97||UFC||2 (0) 0|
|Total||13 (2) 0|
|CWC=Cup Winners Cup; UFC=UEFA Cup; EUC=European Cup; ITC=Inter Toto Cup|