Sunday 22 September 2019

Bosnian cauldron a perfect setting for Murphy to break Irish duck

Republic of Ireland 's Daryl Murphy
Republic of Ireland 's Daryl Murphy

John Fallon

Having sampled the toxic atmosphere of the Tyne-Wear derby for Sunderland, Daryl Murphy is relishing what Zenica has to offer on Friday when he'll likely earn his first start in an away qualifier.

Shane Long's ankle injury, the suspension of Jon Walters as well as Robbie Keane's recent inaction all point to the Ipswich Town striker leading the line for the Euro 2016 play-off first leg.

Admitting that a slender defeat which includes an away goal might not be a disaster given Bosnia Herzegovina are due in Dublin on Monday, Murphy sees no reason to be daunted by the reception Ireland will face.

"It's going to be tough over there, going into a hostile atmosphere of 12,000-seater stadium," noted the 32-year-old.

"I actually feed off that having experienced it before. Playing for Sunderland against Newcastle was probably the worst derby of them all.

"Even getting off the bus going into the stadium, people were throwing things at us. Players were absolutely abused, got spat on and everything. It wasn't nice at all.

"Yet, I think it's good. It motivates you more. I'm all for that. Some players like it, and others don't, but you get on with it."

Getting on with things was the theme of Murphy's Ireland career until Martin O'Neill and his old boss, Roy Keane, took over two years ago this month.

In his twenties, the Waterford man had scant international experience, failing to build upon the debut he was granted by Steve Staunton back in 2007 during the United States tour.

Murphy was particularly slighted by discovering through his wife watching Sky Sports that Giovanni Trapattoni had axed him from the squad.

Not that his ascension under the current pair was overnight either.

Hitting the top of the Championship scoring charts last season with 27 goals thrust him into the role of sole frontman against Scotland in June and, once again, when the world champions arrived in Dublin last month.

Neither of those appearances, like his other 15 caps, yielded a goal but now that the drought at club level ended with a bang on Saturday by notching a hat-trick against Rotherham United, the mojo is back.

"I was chatting to my Dad, saying that I still haven't scored but should have with the chances I got," said the former Sunderland and Celtic man.

"And he was like, 'maybe you're waiting for a big game like this one, maybe it will be a goal that really matters.' That's the way I have to think really. If I get a chance, I've got to take it.

"It would be nice to score in the play-off. I don't want to look back not having done that for my country. I want to be able to say, 'yeah I've scored for my country and it was a big goal too.'

"I'm coming into this game in good form. I actually could have scored five on Saturday, as I hit the crossbar and had another few chances but, look, I can't complain with a hat-trick.

"So for the gaffer to trust me in big games gives me great confidence. Maybe Roy, having managed me at club level, praised me a bit to Martin too."

Whilst his father Peter has been a constant influence on his career, it's his grandfather who initially inspired him to pursue a career in the game.

"My father loves football and he follows me everywhere but he never actually played himself," outlined the Deise man.

"I used to go watch my Grandfather, Michael Farrell, play at junior level down in Ozier Park in Waterford. He played for all the pub teams until he was about 55, always wearing this big headband, shouting and screaming on the pitch. I swear he was absolutely brilliant.

"He bought me my first pair of football boots. Having had seven daughters, I was the first boy to come along in the family so I think he wanted to get me playing as soon as possible.

"My grandfather passed away a few years back but got to see me make my Ireland debut. If I have the energy he had, I'd love to play until I'm 55 as well!"

For the time being anyway, Murphy's professional career seems on course to end in Suffolk. Amid interest from Premier League clubs, and a €6m bid from Middlesbrough, he signed a new deal in the summer which takes him through until 2017.

"I'm at an age now where I don't want to be moving around when the kids are settled," he confessed. "It was a no-brainer when the manager offered me a new contract."

Irish Independent

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