herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Ireland call lifts murphy

English leagues' top scorer has parked his play-off loss

THE ferries which carried back to Ireland the cars and SUVs belonging to our players in the UK for the summer break were, sadly, not laden down with trophies and medals.

Once again, the main honours in the English club scene (Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup as well as the European cups) were untouched by Irish hands, and 'our boys' had to make do with the lesser baubles (Aaron Doran/Anthony Stokes getting cup medals in Scotland, Bristol City's Irish duo landing the Football League Trophy).

There was, at least, one Irish success: his 27 league goals for Ipswich Town left Waterford man Daryl Murphy as the leading scorer across the divisions in the professional game in England.

In years to come, he can look back on his career and recall the season when a former Waterford United striker scored more league goals than Aguero, Costa, Sanchez and Rooney.

That stat won't be enough to garner for Murphy a place in the starting XI for the Euro qualifier with Scotland next week

"It's brilliant. I never would have thought I'd get that many goals this season. But by around Christmas I was aiming for 30 and I just came up a little bit shy.

"I loved it, it was just unfortunate it ended the way it did," says Murphy, referring to his club's defeat in the semi-finals of the promotion playoffs.

And he accepts that his status as Ireland's leading scorer across the water is unlikely to elevate him into the team, though Murphy is at least likely to feature in Sunday's friendly with England.

"Am I frustrated? No, because I was delighted to get back in the squad after being out so long," he admits.

"As I said before, getting the call-up gave me that bit more confidence and that's probably why I got that many goals this season as well.

"The (Ireland) manager has his own ideas about what he's going to do.

"I was trying to maintain what I was doing and hopefully the gaffer would have seen that, he has his own mind to make up and we'll see what happens."

Wes Hoolahan told The Herald before Ipswich and Norwich met in the playoffs that success on that stage, and eventual promotion, would give him a real spring in his step when it came to the June internationals.

For Murphy and clubmate David McGoldrick, it was the opposite feeling as they had to process that loss, with an immediate Irish-related impact as Murphy's fellow Waterford men Noel and Stephen Hunt were included in a clear-out of players following the playoff defeat.

"I wasn't the best to be around for my missus and kids for a few days afterwards but they understood," says Murphy of the defeat to Norwich.

"Under the circumstances the way we lost it was obviously a disappointment but I've put it out of my mind now because it's all about focusing on these games.

"I think at the start of the season we said we were aiming for the play-offs.

"And we got into them but then just missed out unfortunately.

"Personally, it's been the best season I've had and I'm delighted with that," added Murphy, hitting his peak at 31.

"I've always been lucky that I've been naturally fit and that's stood to me well. This season I think I played 50 games and played 90 minutes in almost all of them, so it's not a problem for me really."

After a break, Murphy is back to work with the Ireland squad this week, preparing initially for Sunday's meeting with England.

"It obviously gets us prepared. A lot of the lads were finished at the start of May so the game will help get their fitness up," he explained.

"It'll be a tough game because of the quality they have in their team. It'll be a test for us.

"The disappointment of the play-offs is gone, I can't do anything about that. But it would be great to get a result against Scotland.

"It's a massive game because we're at home as well, so we need to be winning them."

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