Belfast Telegraph

Larne's hot-shot striker Murray wants to show his Premier class again

By Keith Bailie

Larne striker Ciaran Murray would love to emulate Cliftonville legend Joe Gormley's top flight success.

Gormley and Murray shared a stage earlier this week, with Joe winning the Premiership Player of the Month and Ciaran winning the Championship Player of the Month. Both strikers made their names in the Amateur League, with Gormley starting out at Crumlin Star and Ciaran Murray making his name at Immaculata.

Murray said: “I've watched Joe a few times over the last couple of years and he has been tearing the Premiership up, which shows that players from a lower division can make an impact on the Irish League.

“If Larne could get promotion then I think I could score goals in the Premiership. Joe told me he's got 21 goals this season, while I've only got 14 so I guess I've got a wee bit to go.

“In fairness, I had a crack at it before with Donegal Celtic but they played me out on the wing and I wasn't able to have the same impact out there. Then I went to Australia for a year and when I came back I signed for Immaculata, as I wasn't fully fit. Now I'm getting close to my best again.”

This time last season Murray was preparing for the Steel & Sons Cup final. The striker scored Immaculata's only goal on Christmas morning, as Dundela ran out 4-1 winners.

Murray believes there is no shortage of good footballers in the Amateur League but the Championship provides a better structure.

“In terms of quality, I've played with a lot of excellent players in the Amateur League but the structures that are in place in the Championship are much better. Off the field, there is a lot more organisation and on the field, teams have different systems and tactics. In that sense, it's completely different. Training is also very different, we do a lot more work on our shape at Larne.”

Arguably, David McAlinden's Larne are this season's surprise package. They currently sit second in the division, which has Murray and his team-mates dreaming of promotion.

“Is promotion possible? Yeah, why not? Okay, Bangor seem to be running away with it, but it's a long season and I'm sure they will hit a stutter at some point. I don't see any reason why we can't have a strong second half of the season and run them close.

“If we come second then we would be in the promotion play-off, and I think we're capable of doing well against a Premiership side, but there is a long-way to go.”

Murray won November's BT Sport NIFWA Player of the Month award thanks to his five goals. Despite scoring in each one of Larne's four games in November, Murray was surprised when he got the phone call.

“When I found out I was Player of the Month for the whole division, it was a big shock. I feel I've been playing well all season, but I appreciate the extra recognition. I'd like to thank the Football Writers and their sponsors BT Sport for selecting me.”

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