Saturday 24 March 2018

Murphy can relish Wales with business taken care of

Daryl Murphy, left, was the Republic of Ireland's match-winner against Moldova. Photo: PA
Daryl Murphy, left, was the Republic of Ireland's match-winner against Moldova. Photo: PA

Damian Spellman

Daryl Murphy is adamant the Republic of Ireland have not allowed themselves to think about the mouthwatering World Cup showdown with Wales until now.

Heading into Friday night's penultimate Group D qualifier against Moldova, Murphy and his team-mates knew their dreams would be over before they even touched down in Cardiff if they did not emerge with three points.

But having played the pivotal role in a 2-0 victory by scoring both goals, the Nottingham Forest striker is now relishing a game which could yet see either side qualify automatically for next summer's finals in Russia, or both miss out altogether.

When it was put to him that Monday's clash at the Cardiff City Stadium is a massive occasion, Murphy said: "Of course it is, we always knew that. We needed to take care of business on Friday night.

"We've done that, so now we can look forward to it. It was plain and simple what we needed to do - we needed to win. Regardless of the performance that was put in, the result was all that mattered.

"You can only play what's in front of you, we couldn't be thinking about any other game. But now we can turn our attention to the next one."

The fact that Ireland head for Wales with their fate still in their hands was due in large part to Murphy's contribution to the victory over bottom-of-the-table Moldova.

He had managed just one goal in his 29 senior appearances for his country before kick-off, but doubled his tally with an instinctive second-minute finish after Stephen Ward's long throw had caused panic, and added another 18 minutes later with a fine header from Ward's cross.

"We work on things like that (the throw-in) in training and it came off," Murphy said. "It was a nice early goal as well to settle our nerves and ease our way into the game. The second goal was all about the ball. I just needed to direct it and thankfully it went in."

That took the 34-year-old to eight goals for the season for club and country, and it is a run of fine form both he and international manager Martin O'Neill will hope continues in Wales. Murphy said: "I've started the season well, so I was always confident that if I got the chance, I'd take one, and thankfully I got two."

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