Murphy sings praises of fellow strikers as he looks to get off the mark

by James Fenton

With almost a century of goals in English football to his name you wouldn’t expect missing chances to be an issue weighing on Daryl Murphy’s mind.

The prolific Ipswich Town striker’s rich vein of form in the last few seasons has come quite late in his career, so much so that it may come as a surprise to learn that he is already 33-years-old.

His club manager and former Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy has helped to nurture his late progression into the limelight after underwhelming spells at Sunderland and Celtic but it is at international level where the Waterford man is having trouble finding the net.

 

Having earned 19 international caps, 12 as a substitute, Murphy has yet to get off the mark for his country. Speaking to the media after a pre-Euro 2016 open training session at the Aviva Stadium he admitted that breaking his international duck against the Netherlands on Friday would be most welcome, saying:

A goal would be great yeah! I’ve been waiting a long time for one of those. First and foremost if I play any part I need to make sure that I do the basics right. If I’m only thinking about a goal and I’m not holding the ball up and setting other people up then I’m worth nothing really.

 

Once that part of the game is taken care of and I get a chance hopefully it will go in. It hasn’t been wanting to go in for me for a while now but I just need to get the chances and hopefully I’ll take one.

While Murphy admits his lack of goals in a green shirt is frustrating it’s not something he plans to waste time dwelling on as he continued:

It’s frustrating but it’s part and parcel of football. There’s obviously a reason I’ve not scored. I think I’ve had some decent chances and the keeper’s saved it or I’ve hit the post or something like that but you always think as a striker that you’re going to get a chance and you’ll score.

 

You can’t dwell on it too much. If I did that then my confidence would be shattered.  I can’t think too much about it. Hopefully if I play I get one.

The current Ireland squad isn’t short on forwards from whom Murphy can learn and he spoke highly of a number of his team-mates including the in-form Shane Long as the competition for a place among the strikers in manager Martin O’Neill’s final 23-man EURO 2016 squad intensifies.

Shane has always improved any time I’ve seen him. He’s got everything you need to play at the top level. He does it week in week out, he scores goals and causes teams all sorts of problems so I think it’s great for us to have a player like that with his pace and scoring record in our squad.

Murphy reserved his highest praise for squad captain and all-time leading scorer for Ireland with 67 goals Robbie Keane by saying:

It will take a very good striker to beat Robbie’s record! I can’t really see that happening in the years to come. I mean any young lad coming through who wants to score goals will look up to people like Robbie. He’s a legend.

 

I’ve been watching him all my career and I watched him make his home debut against Argentina when I was in school. He’s done brilliantly. Just watching him, still now he’s just so sharp and knows exactly what’s around him and what he’s going to do before the ball even comes and you see his finishing then is top notch.

Keane’s presence is not only appreciated on the pitch and Murphy feels that the captain is just as vital to the squad as a leader in the dressing room, explaining:

He’s always been a voice of influence in the dressing room. That’s just the way he is. He’s brilliant with all the lads. Anyone who comes into the squad from day one he’ll talk to you and make you feel welcome. It’s brilliant for us to have.

Aside from Keane and Long there is another striker in the squad with whom Murphy is more familiar than anyone else.

Himself and David McGoldrick have developed a potent partnership at Ipswich over the last few seasons and since McGoldrick’s arrival on the international scene they have been spending more time together on this side of the Irish Sea.

Murphy’s partner-in-crime was sitting alongside him and was asked about the possibility of one of them making the plane to France while the other misses out, to which he replied:

I’m good mates with Murph. If he went and I didn’t I’d be delighted for him and I’m sure that would be same the other way around. We get on well on and off the pitch. What will be will be.

Murphy was in agreement with his friend as he quipped:

Exact same, yeah. Exactly what he said! Of course you can be happy for your friend. Why not? If I’m not going and David’s going then I’ll support him 100% like I would with any of the rest of the lads.

Fans will hope that the friendship and goodwill between Murphy and McGoldrick is reflective of the camaraderie throughout the squad as a whole as that can only be beneficial as management and squad plot to get out of a difficult EURO 2016 group containing Sweden, Belgium and Italy.

The match against the Netherlands on Friday provides Murphy with the perfect opportunity to get on the scoresheet for the first time. Failing that, he will no doubt be satisfied should any of the strikers he speaks so highly of do so instead.

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