Grant Murray believes that seeing the success Hibs have enjoyed at first-team level this season up close has proved beneficial to himself and his Under-20 squad.
As part of manager Neil Lennon’s first-team coaching staff on match days, former Raith Rovers boss Murray watched Hibs turn in their most impressive display of the season to beat Celtic 2-1 at Easter Road on Saturday, preventing Brendan Rodgers’ side confirming a seventh successive league title in the process.
Murray now leads his Under-20s squad – recently crowned SPFL Development League champions – to Hampden on Thursday for the Scottish Youth Cup final against Aberdeen. It’s then back to top-team duty for the visit of Kilmarnock less than 48 hours later, with Hibs still locked in a three-way battle for second place alongside Aberdeen and Rangers.
Being part of such a run-in, as well as overseeing the next potential academy graduates to Lennon’s squad, means Murray is getting the best of both worlds.
“It’s been great for myself since the manager came in a couple of seasons ago,” said the former Hearts defender. “Him and Garry (Parker) took me under their wing. You’re always learning in the game. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with the first team this season as well the development squad and obviously up until now it’s been fantastic. There’s still some difficult games to go from now until the end of the season, none more so than the Kilmarnock game on Saturday.
“The Celtic game shows the desire that the squad have got. Coming up against any of the Old Firm in a game is hard and Celtic coming to Easter Road is difficult enough without them trying to win the league. But these guys are professionals and they certainly didn’t want Celtic going away having won the league. There’s a lot at stake for these guys as well and the three points were massive.”
Murray is adamant that Lennon’s very nature means no-one will become complacent – and it’s an attitude he wants to see throughout the age groups. “That’s just the demands that the manager has,” he said. “It’s the same demands he puts on himself to make sure everything’s ready for the first team going out on a Saturday and winning points. That’s everyone’s sole aim and it just filters through the club. The young guys have got to learn those traits as well and they’ve shown that this season.
“We try and flush that right through the club, with the young ones as well. People talk about that winning mentality and that has to come from within as well, but there’s the standards and demands the manager’s set for the players and at the moment they’re living up to that.
“It’s up to them as players, to go and deliver whether it’s a gym session, a training session, how they conduct themselves at the club or, most importantly, how they perform in development games.”
Despite working closely with the first team, Murray isn’t tempted by a return to management just yet. “I’m just happy with what I’m doing at the moment,” he insisted. “Being able to pass on stuff that I’ve learned from the first team to the 20s, I’m happy.”