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Friday 2 December 2016

Murphy's law in Lille is the hope for Daryl

Daryl Murphy
Daryl Murphy

A chance encounter and chat with a parent of one of Ireland's Euro 2016 players backed up what we had presumed all along: that the players have as little insight into Martin O'Neill's thinking in terms of squad selection as anyone else with an interest in the Irish game.

So Daryl Murphy is certainly not assuming that he will be in the frame to make a start, and make his first appearance of the competition, when Ireland face Italy in Lille on Wednesday.

He has his backers, as former internationals Stephen Hunt and Keith Andrews both spoke highly of Murphy in the last 24 hours and Murphy hopes that he at least gets a chance to make an impact and does not see Euro 2016, his first (and probably last) major international tournament pass him by.

Hopes

Not everyone gets that chance: Richard Dunne went to the 2002 World Cup finals and didn't kick a ball, the same fate befalling Darron Gibson, Darren O'Dea and others at Euro 2012. Being on hand for the manager doesn't always get you on the field but Murphy has hopes.

"It would be nice to play some part but I don't know what the manager is going to do, we know what we need to do in the next game but I don't know what the manager is thinking of," Murphy says.

The Ipswich Town man knows he's better off than some he could mention as he's in France and in the squad, unlike David McGoldrick or Kevin Doyle, but he's still itching to play.

"I'm delighted to be here but you don't want to be just making up the numbers you want to get a chance. But it's been hard for the manager to look at the bench and try to use me - hopefully it's the case in the last game," he added.

Murphy has arrived late into O'Neill's thoughts but he did enough in terms of gaining the manager's trust to win a place in the starting XI at home to Scotland and Germany.

So far he's not been in his plans, with the same three subs used in both games. Murphy was the one who started against Germany and did the hard work while Shane Long came off the bench to score the winner, and Murphy feels that something special could happen on Wednesday.

"It would be nice alright," he said when asked if someone in green can repeat Ray Houghton's feat against Italy in 1994.

"We need to believe going into that game that we can win it, it's as simple as that. Why can't we? We've played some very good teams and got good results so there's no reason why we can't do that. Of course the belief is there, the Belgium game is gone, we're on to the next one now," he added, expecting a raft of changes from the Italian manager.

"I hope that's the way th ey approach it," Murphy added.

"But they'll be very professional in the way they approach it and they'll want to win it. It's up to us to bring the game to them. We know what we need to do so it's a case of believing that we can do it. We will try our best and hopefully it will happen for us."

A spectator in Bordeaux on Saturday, Murphy was at a loss to explain what he'd seen in the 3-0 defeat.

"I thought we played better against Sweden but it was tough out there," he says. "They [Belgium] kept the ball very well and they break on you very quickly and they have players that can hurt you all over the field. I don't think we kept the ball as well as we could have and that could have been better, but they are a quality side who can punish you.

"We wanted to put in a good performance and get a decent result and it didn't pan out that way."

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