Jamie Murphy on why Hibs 'owed' Jack Ross a win, scoring the winner at St Johnstone, and his frustrating fitness battle

As Jamie Murphy celebrated his winner in front of the travelling Hibs fans, it was more than elation at scoring the goal to end the Easter Road side's run of league defeats.

By Patrick McPartlin
Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 6:00 am
Celebrating his late winner against St Johnstone
Celebrating his late winner against St Johnstone

The strike meant far more to the 32-year-old. He had already seen one effort superbly saved by Zander Clark and dragged another shot wide, both after teeing up Kevin Nisbet for the equaliser.

Murphy has played 13 times this season, scoring twice and setting up two more for his colleagues, but he has only played the full 90 minutes once – in the 3-0 home defeat by Dundee United. Earlier this season he voiced his hopes that after an injury-disrupted first season at Hibs he would be able to put together a run of games this term.

An injury suffered in the first half of the 2-0 victory over Livingston in late August sidelined him for a further period. You wouldn’t have to be a die-hard Hibee to feel sorry for the former Scotland internationalist’s luck, or severe lack of.

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Jamie Murphy has shown glimpses of his talent so far this season - and just wants to be able to do it regularly

Time after time he battles back, and goes again. He is a joy to watch in full flight; a touch slower, perhaps, than a few years ago but no less tricky as he ghosts past opposition full-backs with consummate ease.

Saturday’s victory was also his 500th senior appearance, a notable milestone and fitting that he should have such an impact on an important day.

Speaking exclusively to the Evening News afterwards, Murphy was equal parts delighted, and relieved.

"After the run that we’ve been on, just to win the game first and foremost would have been good, but to come on and score the winner was a special feeling,” he said.

Murphy, far left, wheels away after netting the winner

That he played at all was impressive. Before the trip to Perth Jack Ross rated him as having a slim chance of involvement, with the winger only just back in training after his latest injury.

"It was touch and go really, whether I would be involved in the game,” he reveals. “I was outside for the first time on Thursday but we’ve got a great medical team who really worked on the injury. I trained for the first time on Friday, got some time in the game, and thankfully I made it count.”

Hibs had a goal disallowed in the first half when Nisbet was somewhat dubiously flagged offside after six minutes but they had played well enough only to concede four minutes before the break from a cross.

Craig Bryson’s red card immediately before half-time gave Hibs an advantage but Murphy insisted there had been no panicking during the interval.

Murphy only resumed training the day before his fairytale return to action in Perth

"The gaffer told us that we’d been the better team in the first half and a stupid mistake from a corner and another cross in had cost us. But the last five to six weeks we’ve been unlucky at times so we maybe got a bit of luck when they went down to ten men but the boys were great from then on.”

Murphy also paid tribute to his team-mates who plugged away for the full 90-plus minutes, adding: “Scotty and myself only came on for the last 20 minutes, the rest of the boys played the full game and I thought they were excellent.”

One of the consistent messages from both the Hibs management and players during their winless run was that the performance levels were there, but the results were not. Murphy revealed that the general feeling in the dressing room was that an elusive win wasn’t far away.

"It was a disappointing result during the week [at Ross County] but I thought watching it that we were the better team in that game as well.

"A lot of that is down to the manager and the coaching staff, who have been excellent throughout this rough patch. We all felt like we owed them – not a performance, because they’ve been generally good, but a result.

“They set us up right every week and they work hard all day every day so this win was as much for them as it was for the players and the fans.”

The victory was perhaps all the more impressive given the absence of Martin Boyle and Christian Doidge through suspension while Kyle Magennis was missing through injury.

"Boyley and Doidgey are two big players for us,” Murphy agrees. “Boyley’s into double figures for goals and Doidgey’s been out for a while but we know what he can bring so we’re looking forward to having them back. They can only add to the quality of the team.”

It feels almost akin to mentioning Macbeth in a theatre to ask Murphy about his fitness but the former Motherwell and Brighton attacker is very matter-of-fact about what has been a difficult period in green and white.

"It’s been frustrating trying to get myself up to full fitness so that I can put in the performances I know I can,” he continues.

“I feel like I could add four or five more goals a season if not for goalkeeper saves and a bounce here or there, so yeah, it’s been frustrating .”

Murphy’s former employers Rangers are next up at Easter Road on Wednesday, and he will hope to play his part again in a Hibs victory, having been unavailable for the Premier Sports Cup semi-final win at Hampden.

He may have to be content with a seat on the bench once more but Saturday was a reminder of his talents – not that Ross or any of the coaching staff needed one. More than anything else, though, Murphy just wants to be playing regular football.

“Hopefully I can keep myself fully fit, because I know I can contribute to the team when that's the case,” he adds.

At a time when Hibs need as many bodies as possible, Murphy might have timed his return to action to perfection.

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