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Driven Murphy makes netting QPR spot his No 1 priority

ALL eyes will be on FA Cup clash at Loftus Road this afternoon when John Terry and Anton Ferdinand come face-to-face for the first time since their hostile clash in the league earlier in the season.

While all this is going on, though, Brian Murphy will be slipping into his seat in the stand and watching his club play in yet another big game without him involved.

The former Bohemians man joined QPR on a free transfer last summer, but, at the moment, he has to be content with the third-choice goalkeeping spot.

In context, that's not so bad. He gets all of the trappings of being a professional footballer without the stress of having to perform.

But you don't get to where Murphy has in the game without striving for improvement and, while he is certain he made the right move by joining Neil Warnock's side -- after endorsements from Roy Keane among others -- he wants to keep his progress going and get into the first team, even if it means a loan move after the transfer window ends.

"You're not at a club like this without ability," he told the Irish Independent. "You're depending on one person's view of you and I was under no illusions when I came here. I turned down an offer from Ipswich to stay; took a risk not knowing if I had anything concrete, but I was delighted to get the offer from QPR.

"I wasn't expecting straight away to come in and challenge for No 1, I was hoping to be No 2, which I was after I worked hard in pre-season, but I was unfortunate to get an injury at the wrong time."

He was second choice on arrival, but tore his groin in the warm-up before the Stoke City match. During the game Paddy Kenny tore his gluteal muscle and it was Radek Cerny, rather than Murphy, who stepped in and subsequently produced a host of man-of-the-match performances.

When Kenny came back, Cerny dropped to the bench, meaning Murphy -- who has only played once against Rochdale in the League Cup this season -- has been out of the match-day 18 since. Rather than dwelling on his frustration, the former Ipswich No 1 is remarkably positive.

"I didn't come into the Premier League with hundreds of games under my belt. Paddy Kenny's here and he's had hundreds of clean sheets at this club," he said.

"You have to earn your right to be No 1. I just come in and work hard and see who is in the match-day squad; things can change very quickly in football."

Since Warnock's departure and Mark Hughes' appointment, the Waterford native has been getting positive noises from the Welshman's new goalkeeping coach Kevin Hitchcock and is hoping that his chance will come soon.

That will have to come first before his mind starts to wander towards reclaiming his place in the Ireland set-up.

"It's going to be difficult because there are good 'keepers here, there's good competition," he said. "That's what you want, I suppose, you want to prove yourself, that you're good enough and as far as I know, so far, I've done enough to impress the new goalkeeping coach and some of his staff.

"I've been told that if I keep training at the level I am, then I'll get a chance sooner rather than later."

Something that separates Murphy from his Premier League team-mates is his summer pursuits.

While the others are hot-footing it to warmer climes, the 28-year-old has been part of the Kildare Gaelic football set-up, coaching the goalkeepers in Kieran McGeeney's panel.

"I've done a couple of sessions with them. I have a Gaelic background," he explains.

"It's still the same idea, despite being a different sport. Unless they have a soccer background, the Gaelic 'keepers didn't really get goalkeeping coaching until recently.

"I've worked with the lads over a couple of seasons and seen vast improvements. Down the road somewhere, there is definitely something there to improve Gaelic goalkeepers. If you ask the boys that I worked with, they picked up tips."

That can wait, of course, with Murphy's mind firmly getting back into the match-day squads at Loftus Road and taking centre stage again.

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Irish Independent