Belfast Telegraph

'I'm in a good place': Crusaders ace Philip Lowry explains how life can align to tee up a fruitful football season

Philip Lowry says his happy life outside football is helping to create perfect conditions for a good season with Crusaders.
Philip Lowry says his happy life outside football is helping to create perfect conditions for a good season with Crusaders.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Shot struck. Net ripples. Crowd roar.

It's that sound that Irish League players, coaches and fans dream of all week long; the opening goal, or maybe more-so the winning goal, on a Saturday afternoon.

But it takes much more than one swing of a boot to conduct that chorus. Rather, it's often the product of every single part of a delicate orchestra playing a matching note.

Such is the case for Crusaders midfielder Philip Lowry, who not only gave his side an early lead against Dungannon on Saturday, but would go on to tee up Billy Joe Burns' goal and then bag his second of the day to complete a 3-0 rout.

It takes his tally for the season up to four, three Premiership strikes to add to his Europa League goal against B36.

Lowry, that means, has already matched his league tally for last season and is just one shy of matching his best return since leaving Linfield in 2014.

All by the end of August; not too shabby at all.

Manager Stephen Baxter points out that, having shaken off the injury woes that dogged the early part of his Seaview stint, a solid pre-season is under his belt.

But there are many more aspects that have to add to the hard-work on the training pitch to create the perfect footballing note.

"There's a lot of stuff that goes on in players' lives that you have to manage," explains Baxter. "When you have a player of Philip's ability, you just need to get the right environment."

It has been a topsy-turvy few years for Lowry. His father Ken was diagnosed with cancer in January 2014; 'one of my worst days,' he admits.

Much better have followed since, from Ken's recovery to Philip's marriage to Elaine, changing jobs and now the news that he will become a father in the new year.

"It all plays a part, especially in the Irish League because football is your second job, really," Lowry agrees. "You've got your work, mortgages and what-not. You can get bogged down in this and that.

"I was 30 in July past so I'm probably just maturing. I'm just enjoying my football now. I've realised I'm happy where I am and everything is going well for me in life at the minute.

"I’m Godfather to my brother Stephen's wee girl Eve (bottom inset), he has another baby due next month and we have our first due in January. It’s a really nice period in our lives, everything's going well and everyone is keeping well.

"I'm in a good place, I suppose.

"I’m a pharmacist in the Royal (Victoria) Hospital so it’s a high-pressure job. If you make a mistake in there, you could kill someone so when you miss a chance on a Saturday, that other side of things puts it into perspective," he smiles.

It's music to manager Baxter's ears, not that he's surprised to hear it.

He's noticed Lowry's 'relaxed' manner, the 'big smile' on his face at training. "That's when you see the best of players," says the experienced boss.

He's right - but only if those talents are unlocked by the manager's tactics.

That's the orchestra's other section that Lowry says is working in perfect harmony.

"Since I've come here, I've been playing a lot more of a reserved role," he says, not complaining, but more explaining his relatively modest goal return in his first two seasons at Seaview. "I've been playing in front of the back four.

"This season, it has helped me playing alongside Rory Hale or it was Gary Thompson sitting (on Saturday) so that just gives me more of a license to get into the box.

"It's working at the minute. When you've got the forward players like Cush (David Cushley) and big Jordan Owens that can hold the ball up and set it through for my runs, it suits my game so long may it continue."

With all of that coming together, it is little wonder Saturday brought his first two-goal haul for the club.

Timely it was too, cancelling out the brace scored by brother Stephen, who now plays for Coleraine, on Friday evening.

"I actually couldn’t believe Stevie scored two," Lowry laughs. "My phone was blowing up after our match on Saturday, with people saying I couldn’t let him have his moment.

"Neither of us has been scoring much in the past couple of years so I wouldn’t like to bet on goals or anything but I suppose we challenge each other. It would be nice to get more goals than Stevie. I think he already has a bit of catching up to do."

It would certainly have been a happy Sunday lunch in the Lowry household.

Cutlery clinking. Voices laughing. Nappies changing.

The Irish League's finest symphony requires more parts than it would seem.

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