Ian Murray: Raith Rovers boss recalls past cup agony as he urges team to 'seize the opportunity' against Accies

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Raith Rovers boss Ian Murray has urged his team to not let the chance of cup glory slip past them on Sunday afternoon in the SPFL Trust Trophy final, writes Ben Kearney.

The Stark’s Park side are no strangers to winning the competition, and are the current holders of the cup going into this weekend’s match-up with Hamilton Accies in Falkirk.

However, Murray knows all too well that chances at lifting a cup are few and far between for most players, with a handful of players in the Raith squad going into what will be their first final.

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You have to go back to 2001 for the last time Murray was involved in a cup final, and that ended in heartbreak, with his Hibs team at the time under Alex McLeish going down 3-0 to a rampant treble-winning Celtic.

Raith boss Ian Murray hopes to get his hands on cup again this Sunday (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group)Raith boss Ian Murray hopes to get his hands on cup again this Sunday (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group)
Raith boss Ian Murray hopes to get his hands on cup again this Sunday (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group)

“Being 19 and playing in your first Scottish Cup final, you think your next one will be three or four years away,” Murray said. “And then it doesn’t come. You think it will come eventually and it doesn’t.

“You can’t have regrets. I was only young, I didn’t expect to be playing, to be honest.

“So I don’t have regrets, we had a good Hibs side but we were playing against a really good Celtic side. As good as we were, we couldn’t handle them, not a lot of teams could at that stage of the season.

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“I was injured for the 2012 final with Hearts, we missed out in a couple of semi-finals which we should have won, the Dundee United one in particular where we were 1-0 up. So you have to grab opportunities when they come.

“Unfortunately for ourselves or Hamilton one of us is going to leave without the cup, fortunately one of us is and hopefully it is us. But our players need to understand the situation and the concept of that horrible feeling that losing brings. And also understand it’s not the end of the season, we still have eight games left and we can’t let the high of winning or the disappointment of losing it be too much.”

One of Murray’s main jobs before Sunday’s match even kicks-off will be juggling the emotions of those who miss out on the starting eleven, and he himself has memories of witnessing that first-hand under Alex McLeish at Hibs.

“I remember for the 2001 final I was sharing a room with Tam McManus. He was the 19th man that day, the boss explained.

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“He had scored in the quarter-final in the last minute against Kilmarnock, he had played a part in the semi-final.

“He was devastated and rightly so because it’s a horrible moment. It was horrible for me rooming with him.

“He only found out on the Saturday morning and I’m delirious because I’m playing and I’ve got to try to temper that and console a team-mate.

“So, it’s never easy at all. You have to make hard decisions as a manager and make the decisions you think are right.

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“If you make a decision you think is right deep down and it doesn’t work, then you have no regrets - and if it does work then you have no regrets. But you have to make tough calls.

"It’s very, very difficult because we’ve got players coming back from injury but a team that won 6-1 on Saturday (against Cove Rangers).

“I said to the players before the game, ‘you guys are in pole position, don’t lose the jersey’. That was the message and that was to try to get us the three points.

“But you have to look at everything - tactical, the way Hamilton play, the way players have performed in the past for you.”

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Murray also says he will field by best side on Sunday, hinting that Jamie McDonald would start in net despite Robbie Thomson’s semi-final heroics.

“You’ve got to put your best team out to try to win the cup, he said. “Robbie Thomson did fantastically well in the semi-final and Andy McNeil did fantastically well in the earlier rounds and in the penalty shoot-out against Morton, and also against Queen’s Park.

“But I’m a firm believer that when you get to this stage of the season, barring injury, then you go with your best side.”

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