‘Big Murph’ catches manager’s eye

On a hot scoring streak of five goals in his last six games for Ipswich Town, Daryl Murphy is bound to be high up in Martin O’Neill’s thoughts as Ireland prepare to face a Gibraltar side which shipped seven in their opening European Championship qualifier against Poland.

O’Neill has been on-hand three times to see Murphy find the net — “I’ve almost been stalking him,” he quipped yesterday — and seems to share Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy’s belief the former Waterford United man is in the form of his career.

“He’s done exceptionally well,” said the Ireland manager. “He’s playing with confidence, holding it up, and looks as if he’s dangerous. He looks at this minute, when he runs, as if he’s got a half yard from somewhere. In Championship games he’s played in I’ve seen, he has been very impressive.”

Whether all that is enough to translate into a rare start for the man O’Neill calls ‘Big Murph’ on Saturday remains to be seen, and the man himself is at pains to point out there are other strikers in the Irish squad who could also profit from Gibraltar’s susceptibility to crosses and set-pieces.

“I’d like to think we are going to get a lot of crosses in the box, but we’ve got players who can head the ball just as well as me,” he said. “We’ve got Shane Long, Kevin Doyle and Jonny Walters, who have a proven record at this level. The manager has come to look at me so if he thinks I’m ready to start, then brilliant. If not, then I’m quite happy [just] to be involved.”


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