Those of you who have followed the BOI Celtic Challenge for the past four years will be well aware of the merits of such a competition and how it gives talent from the supposedly ‘weaker’ counties a platform to showcase their skills and shine.
Not only do we have teams playing out thrilling contests that are consistently going down to the wire but we’re also getting to watch some of the country’s finest young talent and in many cases, untapped resources make a name for themselves.
One man sums this one up more than most, Derry’s Jamie Murray.
The Ballinascreen man caused a few headaches for opposing defenders in last year’s competition with his bustling full-forward style that ultimately played a huge part in Derry picking up a maiden BOI Celtic Challenge title.
Those who tuned in to Pundit Arena’s coverage of last years final will know exactly what Murray is capable of having seen the ‘Screen minor score a simply outrageous goal in Derry’s final win over Galway Tribesmen. There’s no point us trying to describe this one, just watch the video!
In the words of Brendan Hennessy, ‘What a finish! DJ Carey, Henry Shefflin, Seamy Callanan, have you scored one like that’?
Not many will have scored one like that and less in front of the cameras but Jamie Murray has and we caught up with him one year on to discuss how that goal and the Celtic Challenge helped develop his game.
The clearly affable Murray jokes when asked about the attention he garnered after scoring one like that. In his distinctive South Derry brogue, the ‘Screen man declared ‘his head was fried’ after scoring a goal of such class.
“Aaahh plenty of times, sure my head is fried! (laughs)
“But hi! You take the compliments where you can get them.”
When speaking to Jamie Murray it’s easy to understand why it’s him scoring that goal and not, well… me. His carefree tone coupled with talk of mixing practice with risk-taking shows the psyche of a guy who just lives to be on the hurling field and expressing himself.
“Awk, you score a few of them goals in training.
“You just work on those sort of things and then hard work and practice generally pays off. When you get the opportunity just take it, go for it and if it doesn’t work, get up and try again!
“Luckily enough, I found myself in that situation and the player was running at me and I had no other option so I just said to myself that ‘I’m going to try it here’ and if it didn’t work out sure what can I do about it? But luckily it paid off and I got a goal out of it.”
Murray loved his experience competing in the BOI Celtic Challenge with his only regret being that he only got to play one season in the tournament.
However, the young full-forward has gone from strength to strength after competing in the tournament and just last week was rewarded with a call-up to the Derry U20 squad.
“I only played last year. It was my last year at U17s but I was very privileged to get to represent my county.
“Luckily enough, I was asked to come and train with the Derry U20 squad so I started training there last week and will be out again on Sunday morning.
“That’s been the goal for years and it’s brilliant to be able to play for my county at this age.”
Still a year left in school, Murray is training with both the Derry U20s and Ballinascreen minor squads. When asked how it’s been different for him going back to playing with his club after excelling at county level, the very modest Murray comes across as someone who just tries to use his experiences to benefit everyone around him.
“Awk you just keep on playing hurling and giving it your best.
“All you can do is try your best and that’s all anybody can ask of you but obviously, you’re expected to be good when you are playing county and you are one of the main players and a leader in the team but that’s why you have to boost other lads, praise them before training and after matches and give them a wee boost about themselves.”
Murray looks back on his Celtic Challenge experience with extreme fondness and is very honest about how important it is for young hurlers in terms of getting valuable game time.
“I just loved the whole buzz about it and getting to play for your county because realistically if you were playing minor for Derry a couple of years ago you might have got one or two games and when you’re out of Ulster that’s it but with the BOI Celtic Challenge you get a pile of games.
“You have the group stages and then you’re into the knockout rounds and even if you haven’t done well in the group stage you still go into a lower division. So, you get plenty of game time and everybody gets a chance. Last year we were using about five or six subs a game, everybody was getting enough game time and it feels special to play for your county and it gives lads the opportunity to do that.”
With regards to that goal. There’s one man out there who Murray hopes got a chance to see it. A man he got the chance to meet a few years back and one of the few hurlers out there who could’ve also executed what Jamie Murray did that day.
“Joe Canning would be my favourite hurler. A few year’s ago I went down to Galway to get a hurl off him and he came out into the front garden and pucked away with me so that was really exciting. That was four or five years ago but I was buzzing to get to puck about with Joe Canning.
“I don’t know if he saw it or not but hopefully, he did.”
We may as well put the hit out here now. If you’re reading this and you know Joe Canning show him what the wee fella from Ballinascreen who bought a hurl off him a few years back can do with a hurl and a sliothar!