Crusaders' cup heroes predicted telling contribution

Cup final heroes Johnny McMurray and Josh Robinson revealed they joked about coming on and saving the day for Crusaders, but neither could have imagined it would be in such dramatic circumstances.

By Steven Crawford
Sunday, 8th May 2022, 9:18 pm
Updated Sunday, 8th May 2022, 9:19 pm

McMurray and Robinson watched on from the bench as the Crues toiled against a Ballymena United side, who edged in front early on thanks to a Robbie Weir own goal.

The duo, who both entered the fray in the second half, geed each up beforehand by promising a goal-scoring contribution, and boy did they deliver!

Robinson bundled home the equaliser in the third minute of stoppage time at the end of 90 minutes before McMurray broke his former employer’s hearts with a superb winner in the 122nd minute.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Crusaders’ cup hero Johnny McMurray celebrates with his winner's medal

“You don’t know if you’re going to be called upon or not, thankfully I was one of the ones who was,” said McMurray.

“You joke about coming on and scoring the winner when you’re sitting on the bench luckily it fell to me today and I did it.

“Both myself and Josh were joking before we came on that we would score and it’s mad that it happened.

“It’s a great feeling especially after last year when we both lost it with Larne.

“It’s a bit bittersweet at the end of the day. Ballymena are a good club, there’s good people there and I’ve a load of friends there too.

“As much as you want to win it’s hard to see people cry, it’s a big day and no-one wants to lose it.”

It was a typically instinctive finish from McMurray which led to wild scenes of celebration.

“I don’t even remember who flicked it on. I just remember stepping out and seeing the ball in front of me, I just stretched for it and hit it and hoped for the best,” he said.

“I didn’t try and put it anywhere, I just hit it.

“The last thing I saw was it coming off Jordan Williamson’s hand, but I think I was already on my way.

“Once you connect with a ball and you feel it coming off your foot you know you’ve got a good chance. It came off and ecstasy hits.

“It was absolute carnage [the celebration for his goal]. I don’t even know what I was doing, I was just running, trying to turn my shirt around, and the next thing I realised I was with the lads commentating for BBC.

“It’s a class feeling and a class moment, it’s something you might never do again but it’s great.

“I’ve scored a few worldies in my day to be honest but it’s up there.

“My team-mates were telling me to take a touch but thankfully I hit that one first time.

“I think it’s a different sort of goal because of the situation you’re in.

“Scoring in a cup final is one of those things not many people get to do.”

The day was made even more special for McMurray as his brother was back from Australia and in the stadium to witness it.

“My brother Jason is back from Australia, it is the first time I have seen him in about three years and he had his little one with him,” explained the striker.

“He sent me a screenshot of a message he sent to his wife at half-time saying I would come on score the winner.

“It was lovely to have him and the rest of the family here.”