Irish League kick-off: Dungannon Swifts boss Darren Murphy ready for Carrick Rangers opener

Dungannon Swifts manager Darren Murphy
Dungannon Swifts manager Darren Murphy

Darren Murphy could be forgiven for feeling a sense of deja vu as he glances at the fixture list for the new Danske Bank Premiership season.

Once again Dungannon Swifts have been handed an opening day test against newly-promoted opposition.

Not only that, their next three fixtures – against Ballinamallard, Linfield and Ballymena – are a near repeat of last August.

The Dungannon boss said: “I’m told the fixture list is random, but this is the fourth season in a row that we have faced the team coming up from the Championship.

“We have Ballinamallard second, as we did in 2013 and 2014, and Linfield and Ballymena in the first month as well - just like last season.”

That quirk aside, Murphy can be relatively content as he prepares for his third full season in sole charge of Dungannon.

The pre-season campaign brought seven wins from eight, the most recent coming against Ards last Saturday.

Dungannon also claimed big victories against Loughgall (6-0) and Lisburn Distillery (6-1).

While Murphy has been impressed with Swifts’ pre-season form, he admits it will count for nothing come the start of competitive action.

However, he feels the players are ready for the big kick-off.

“I think we are as ready as we’re going to be. I don’t think we can have done much more, so from that perspective I have to be happy,” he added.

“We’ve done well but I don’t read too much into the results.

“It is more about performances and we’ve had five really, really good performances, and a few others that have been a bit low-key.

“But I have to be pleased enough with how we’ve done. We’ve no injuries either, which is a bonus.”

Even after 12 years in the Premiership, Dungannon start each campaign with survival top of their priority list.

This season is no different, although Murphy believes they are capable of improving on last season’s 10th place.

“I’d like to improve on last season if we can,” he adds.

“We now have real competition for places, and hopefully that drives the players on.”