Football’s place in the grand scheme of things was made plain again last week with the news of Kevin Doyle’s forced retirement.
Daryl Murphy could empathise even as he strives to book a berth at next year’s World Cup.
Murphy and Doyle made their moves from the League of Ireland to England within weeks of one another in the summer of 2005. Both natives of the sunny southeast, Murphy is just six months older than his former fellow striker.
So Murphy admits it was “scary” to hear that a peer and former team-mate had called it quits on medical advice as a result of repeated concussions, although it isn’t something that infects his thinking on weeks like this.
“No, you can’t be going into a game thinking like that. The ball is there to be won, you’ve got to try and win it. You can’t pull out thinking of a bang in the head and stuff like that. It happens every day in training so you can’t think like that.”
Roy Keane said much the same yesterday with his blunt remark about football not being chess but Murphy’s assertion about health being your wealth is a tune everyone can sing and family is another priority behind which the beautiful game has to reside.
Like most footballers, Murphy has had to change postcodes with a regularity that doesn’t lend itself to a settled domestic life.
Twelve times he has changed employers, between England, Ireland, and Scotland. In all, 10 different clubs have helped paid his bills.
The last three years have been particularly dizzying with the 34-year old lining out for three different clubs in as many seasons but the decision was made when he moved to Newcastle in August of 2016 that his family didn’t need to continue that lifestyle.
So, his wife Roseanne and children Caitlin and Mason have been living at home in Ireland since he made the move from Ipswich to the northeast with Murphy finding temporary abodes for himself, the latest in Nottingham since his transfer to Forest.
“It is hard but I wasn’t moving my kids around any longer. They have done it for long enough and my eldest girl is 12 so she was starting in first year in secondary school back here and it was just a case of getting them settled. Once they’re happy I’m happy. That’s all that matters. I’m not going to be moving them around schools in England.
“As I said, they’ve been doing it long enough and they have been brilliant. It wouldn’t be fair on them and I can just concentrate on football and they come over as much as they can. So it has worked out quite well.”
He’s clearly in a good place. A persistent calf injury has finally been shaken off thanks to the odd bout of cryotherapy and some extra work in the gym and six goals in 12 appearances for Forest this season suggests that this is a man bang in form.
Mark Warburton’s side has balanced five league wins with six defeats and have, according to the club’s legendary European Cup winning defender Kenny Burns, continually failed to give enough support to their new Irish striker in the opposition penalty area.
“Team-wise, the manager just wants to play football, said Murphy. “That’s his philosophy. He likes getting the ball down and get playing and he’s not going to shy away from that if things aren’t going well.
“We’ll keep trying to do what he wants us to do.
“We’ve all adapted to that and we’ll enjoy the way he wants us to play and we’ll get better as the season goes on. We’re still not that far into it and we’ve put in some very good performances, and as I said not got the results we’ve deserved.”
Martin O’Neill will be relieved to see him this week.
With Jonathan Walters unavailable, Shane Long struggling for fitness and light on game time and goals and Doyle retired, the Republic’s manager will surely hand a central role to Murphy.
It wouldn’t be the first time.
Though all four of his appearances so far in this campaign have come from the bench, he has started crucial games for his country: Against Italy at Euro 2016, the two play-offs with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany, and Scotland among them.
He has impressed in the green jersey of late but now would be a great time to add to the one goal he has managed in 26 appearances — the equaliser away to Serbia 13 months ago — as Ireland chase the six points they need to keep them in contention for Russia.
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