Yesterday’s game against Weymouth saw Keiran Murtagh feature in our matchday programme. For those who missed it, here is the full article:

Central Midfielder, Keiran Murtagh, has been in the Dartford squad for a couple of seasons now, and his wealth of experience has become a vital asset to Alan Dowson’s side.

The London-born Antigua & Barbuda player has featured heavily this season, as the Darts continue to close the gap to local rivals Ebbsfleet United in the National League South table.

With an unbeaten run stretching to eight games in all competitions (at the time of writing), the Darts have certainly become more consistent, which is something that Keiran had concerns about, “We had a tough start with new management and new players, but we’re getting better and need to continue with consistency.”

That’s a key factor for the midfielder, who believes that the team has a lot of work to do in order to remain in the play-off positions and challenge for promotion… “The club has real ambitions to play in the higher leagues. That’s one of the reasons why I re-signed after speaking to the new manager. Dartford is a well-run, family club, so it was an easy decision. Plus, the way last season ended wasn’t great, especially for me because I got injured close to the end. I didn’t have a chance to be involved in the way I wanted. I want to put that right.”

It’s clear that Keiran feels that he has unfinished business here at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park. He aims to, “…play as well as I can and help the team to continue pushing up the table. And, hopefully, we’ll go one better than last season.”

Inspiring words indeed. But where did it all begin for Keiran? “I played every day on my local estate… we all did back then, it was what every kid did. My friend signed up for a Sunday league team and his dad told the manager that he wanted to bring me along too. So I went.”

He continues, “I was about eight then and always dreamed of making it in the sport. But, I kinda gave up that dream when it didn’t happen. However, I was scouted by Charlton when I was 15, so that was the moment when I actually thought I’d be able to make a career out of it (football).”

With his mum always being there for him, Keiran’s football career began with Charlton’s U18s side where he remained for three years. He eventually signed for Yeovil Town, which was a big step up for the midfielder, yet he enjoyed his time there before “…I bounced around for a bit.” His journey then took him to Macclesfield Town, Mansfield Town, and Boreham Wood before he ended up here in Dartford.

Like any aspiring footballer, Keiran states that his inspiration on the pitch was Zinedine Zidane, “…he made everything look easy and almost graceful. I always wanted to play like him.”

Meanwhile off the pitch, Keiran’s inspiration is his mum… “Mum was always my inspiration. She would always be there and, at 13, I trained every night and played for two teams as well as my school. She was, and still is, my inspiration. She never stopped. And, having kids of my own now, I understand how busy it can get taking your children to after-school clubs, etc.”

Keiran’s love and respect for his mum is heart-warming, and his honesty and humbleness really shines through during our discussion. And, while his initial dream of “making it” in the professional world of football now sees him plying his trade in the non-league pyramid, the evidence suggests that he’s had a positive impact within the sport he loves.

Additionally, at just 33 years of age, the midfielder still has plenty to offer at this level, whether that’s on the pitch or behind the scenes to help the current influx of Academy Graduates moving into the First Team. But what are his plans moving forward?

“Outside of football I’m a carpenter, and have been for the last five years. I hope to branch out on my own and open my own business after my football career has finished.”

That’s for the future though, as Keiran is currently focused on his family, work, and helping Dartford get back into the National League. His family is obviously top priority for him, but he does like to chill and play Call of Duty when the time allows. But, his days are long, …”A typical day sees me wake up with the kids, get them ready for school and leave for work. I work until around 4pm, then it’s back home to spend time with the Mrs and kids until they go to bed. Then I’ll watch a film or some sort of series with the Mrs, then off to bed and ready for the next day!”

And, of course, there’s the commitment to Dartford FC on top of that, which involves training and playing two-three times a week. Keiran’s schedule is more-or-less fully booked during the season, but he wouldn’t have it any other way and has these final words for the Dartford faithful…

“Thank you all for your support. This is a great club and, hopefully, together we can have a great season. Up The Darts!”

By Chris Palmer