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McMurray hails the United Friel factor

By Graham Luney

Ballymena United striker Johnny McMurray has admitted his strike partnership with Cathair Friel has caught everyone by surprise.

McMurray and Friel are good pals off the pitch and they have combined to deadly effect in the heat of battle as opponents have been left wondering what hit them.

If Carrick Rangers are going to lift the League Cup at Seaview tomorrow night, they must silence the Sky Blues' dynamic duo and that's easier said than done.

"The partnership with Cathair has been great but I don't think anyone thought it would work so quickly," admitted McMurray.

"In pre-season it was tough and the less said about our 12-minute runs the better.

"'Bushy' (Friel) and I get on really well but to look at the two of us, you'd have thought we'd rolled out of a Sunday League pub team and we were rocking up to pre-season games - especially Bushy! He was a wee bit more off than I was! I don't think either of us expected it to work so well, so quickly but he really took off quickly and I actually think it was me who got him his goals!

"People probably looked at Bushy and because of the level he came from they weren't expecting much but he's on a different level. I don't think people have seen the best of him yet and he hasn't reached anywhere near his full potential."

Former Cliftonville ace McMurray was determined to show his class this season and a League Cup final appearance is the icing on the cake.

"I wasn't involved in any of the Cup finals when I was at Cliftonville," he added. "I've really enjoyed playing for David (Jeffrey). It's hard to pinpoint why more than any other club, though.

"Cliftonville was a great club and I learned a lot from the players who were there but I knew I was never going to get into the team. They were at the top, and playing with Joe (Gormley) and Liam (Boyce) was brilliant for me. 

"I then went on loan to Warrenpoint and that was great for me and I really don't think we deserved to be relegated.

"But since coming to Ballymena it has been streets ahead in terms of professionalism and everything is there that we need. It's attention to detail in terms of how we can improve and I've never known anything like it at another club.

"I did feel I had something to prove this season personally, for myself more than anything."

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