Warrenpoint Town manager Matthew Tipton is backing Darren Murray to rediscover his golden goal touch and justify the tag of the club’s “biggest ever signing”.
Murray cannot pull on the Town colours until next season but will be unveiled to the home fans before today’s Irish Cup sixth-round clash with Crewe United to maximise the impact of the Championship leaders securing one of the most feared forwards in the modern Irish League.
Tipton is confident Murray can shake off the problems of the past few seasons and find a home at Milltown to rejuvenate the 25-year-old’s career.
“Darren has had a difficult few seasons but from my first meeting it was clear he still has that hunger for the game,” said Tipton. “The reality is we would not have had a shot at signing Darren if he was still the guy from a few years ago banging in the goals and giving defenders nightmares.
“Given his proven track record, ability and age, to get Darren to Warrenpoint is a massive statement by the club.
“Darren is in that top echelon and the biggest ever signing in Warrenpoint history.
“It is credit to people around the club but a massive testament to Darren for buying into what we feel we can achieve.
“We talked a few times before finalising the deal and our discussions only ever centred on football, how he will fit into our style of play, what we need from him and how the club is trying to move forward.
“He is chomping at the bit to get started and we are thrilled to have him make that commitment to the club in the face of interest from so many other more established teams.
“He has turned down bigger financial offers from other clubs in the Premiership because he is on board with our goals moving forward and feels we can help him.
“We still have work to do to get out of the Championship but to have Darren commit now to the club for a summer move tells you everything about his desire to get on board and help Warrenpoint.
“Darren is a brilliant finisher but also someone who can run in behind, work along the frontline, be strong and win headers.
“We want to offer Darren a fresh start and different challenge but certainly feel he can thrive at this club.”
Murray effectively arrived at Portadown in 2012 as a replacement for Tipton following the latter’s switch to Linfield. Murray left Shamrock Park last January for Cliftonville but had his contract terminated by mutual agreement after only eight months and is currently on the books with Amateur League-based Crumlin Star.
Tipton has highlighted the role played by a former team-mate of both strikers in persuading Murray to sign for Warrenpoint.
“David Miskelly was goalkeeper at Portadown during both our spells with the club and is now on board at Warrenpoint as assistant manager, having retired from playing,” said Tipton. “I respect his judgement and David was key during the initial conversations with Darren before we met those closing times to wrap up the deal.
“David feels Darren has that same desire now as he first showed after signing for Portadown and going on to score 20-plus goals a season.
“The goal is obviously to have Warrenpoint playing next season in the Premiership and I’m convinced Darren can lead the line.
“He just comes across in my conversations with Darren as a good kid determined to score goals again at the top level.
“He knows exactly what is required to fit into our style and, as a former striker, I am backing him to embrace that responsibility as the main man when on the pitch.
“He will relish that challenge to prove what he can do and it is a situation in which the player and club can both win.
“The idea behind making the announcement today is so that everyone can refocus between now and the end of the season.
“Crumlin Star have been brilliant with Darren all along and I know he wants to concentrate on helping them finish the season with success.
“We have a job to do in our own league so cannot get distracted from those targets but will aim to integrate Darren into training towards the end of the season.
“Everyone is just delighted to have the deal wrapped up and now we can all focus on the future.”