These are good times for Clare soccer according to Newmarket Celtic manager Liam Murphy, who is hoping to add further success when he leads Newmarket Celtic to Limerick for their Munster Junior Cup semi-final game against Janesboro on Sunday at 12 noon.
Murphy notes Newmarket’s opponents will carry the favourites’ tag.
“We are the underdogs. We are not stupid enough to think otherwise. They are about to retain the premiership in Limerick, something they have never done. They are trying to add a Munster Junior Cup to that and they are a force to be reckoned with. We have our work cut out to try and contain them and impose our game plan on them,” he told The Clare Champion.
Newmarket met Janesboro at the same stage in this competition back in 2016, before losing out to St Michael’s in the final. That year, Janesboro defeated Newmarket in the FAI Junior Cup.
Victory on Sunday would set up another match with Pike Rovers, as they came from two goals down in the final quarter to beat Killarney Celtic 3-2 after extra time in the other semi-final last weekend.
While Murphy and the Newmarket squad would like another shot at Pike Rovers, they are not looking beyond this weekend’s fixture.
“The big focus for us is on Sunday. This is bonus territory for us. We are disappointed to have lost out to Pike but we remain hopeful and determined to create history, as this the 50th year of our club,” the Newmarket boss added.
This is the Clare club’s fourth time contesting the semi-final of this competition.
“We got back together on the evening after losing out to Pike in the FAI and we met again on the Wednesday. With so many involved with Clare in the Oscar Traynor, it wasn’t easy last week but this week we will work on a few things. As I have said, we are really up against it. They are 16 points ahead of everybody else in the Limerick League, so we have a huge task,” he continued.
One of the players who will be doing all in his power to deny Newmarket is Jon Mulready, who hails from Sixmilebridge. He is well versed in what Newmarket have to offer, as he has played against them on many occasions with his native club before he signed for Janesboro last year.
As Murphy and his backroom team look ahead to Sunday, they are likely to again have to play without Gary Higgins, who has been out of action in recent weeks due to injury.
“Daithi O’Connell picked up an injury last week and is battling to be fit. Colin Ryan shipped a very heavy knock in the early stages of Sunday’s game and while he recovered to play a full part in Clare’s win, we are keeping our fingers crossed that he will be fully fit for Sunday.
“Dave McCarthy also picked up a knock on Sunday but he should be okay,” according to Murphy.
The Newmarket manager says these are good times for Clare soccer.
“With wins over Limerick and Dublin, Clare deserve to be where they are in the Oscar Traynor. Barry Ryan was phenomenal on Sunday. Both teams had chances and we could have been looking at a different scoreline. It shows how far Clare soccer has come. Teams are experienced enough to stay in games and then convert a chance when it presents.”
It is expected that soccer fans will again travel in big numbers to the Boro complex for Sunday’s clash. Newmarket are certainly facing a big task but it is one they are capable of surmounting.
By sports editor Seamus Hayes