Experienced Murray fits right in at UCC

WHILE he is better known as an All-Ireland senior hurling medal winner with Cork in 1999, Kevin Murray was also a talented footballer, playing with Dohenys until six years ago.

Now he is putting his experience to good use as the physical trainer to the UCC senior football side, a mutually beneficial marriage as he completes a BA course in physical fitness.

The College face Dr Crokes in the Munster club football final in Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday, Murray hoping to mark his second anniversary of being in the backroom team with victory.

“I first got involved in December 2009,” he says, “around the time that Billy [Morgan] started as the Sigerson manager. My sister Aoife was coaching UCC’s Ashbourne Cup team and one day [UCC GAA officer] John Grainger just happened to ask her what I was up to. I was, and am, doing a correspondence course in Setanta College under Dr Liam Hennessy, who has worked with Pádraig Harrington and the IRFU, so it worked out perfectly.”

Doing a long-distance course, involving monthly practicals in Thurles, is time-consuming, especially as he runs Murray Browne Auctioneers with former Cork colleague Alan Browne. But he doesn’t complain.

“I was always very interested in fitness, even though people might not have thought that I was!” he laughs.

“Movement mechanics and things like that are fascinating to me and, as well, given I had just retired, it was a way of staying involved in sport. I help out with a few underage teams in the Barrs and give a hand to the juniors when I get a chance, but when you’re doing all that and trying to run a business too, it’s not easy.”

With his role with UCC, finding a balance is the main focus for Murray.

“From my perspective, I try to put plans in place well in advance. That doesn’t always work in practice, for instance we were meant to play a league final on Tuesday night but it was called off because of the weather.

“Ideally, though, you plan in blocks of six or 12 weeks. Overall the players have a good level of fitness so basically what I’m doing is fine-tuning. Plenty of nights I’ve turned fellas away from training because they needed to rest.”

Fitness in mind is just as important as fitness in body. Murray is convinced it is a trait UCC have in abundance.

“For this year’s Sigerson, we were physically better, that was important when it ran from Thursday to Saturday, but as well it was vital that we were mentally strong. That has shown itself right through the championship.

“Against Monaleen in the Munster quarter-final, we kept the ball at the end of extra-time for two-and-a-half minutes. We got a free 30 yards out and I was going to tell Paul Geaney to put it over or leave it dead, but either Sean Kiely or Adrian Greaney said to run it and they did. To make a decision like that at such an important stage and put it into practice showed real maturity. We’re blessed to have a lot of leaders on the team.”

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