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Barry-Murphy relishing Old Trafford challenge: 'Half of Cork has been on to me about tickets'

Under the stewardship of an ex-Ireland U21 international, Rochdale will take on Manchester United next week.

Updated Sep 17th 2019, 8:30 AM

DESPITE AMASSING NEARLY 400 appearances in England, Brian Barry-Murphy was never afforded the opportunity to test himself against a Premier League heavyweight during his playing career.

After just six months as a manager, a cup draw has finally been kind to the Cork native, who can now look forward to facing one of the big guns from the top flight.

BBM 2 Rochdale manager Brian Barry-Murphy. Source: Rochdale AFC

Having overcome Bolton Wanderers and Carlisle United in the previous rounds, Barry-Murphy will take his Rochdale side to Old Trafford a week tomorrow to face Manchester United in the Carabao Cup.

Although Rochdale had average home attendances of just over 3,500 last season, the club expects around 6,000 supporters to make the 20-mile journey south for the meeting with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

Ahead of the game, Barry-Murphy sat down to record Episode Six of The Football Family podcast on The42 at his club’s training base on the grounds of the Rochdale Cricket Club.

“It’s unreal for the lads,” said the 41-year-old, whose players must negotiate League One fixtures against Lincoln City and Fleetwood Town before shifting their focus in the direction of the 20-time champions of England.

“We played Carlisle in the previous round, the draw was on the Wednesday night and we had a game. The lads went into meltdown the following day. The atmosphere was like a stag do or a party when we were going into training.

“There was a lot of thoughts running through my head: should I try and calm them down? I just thought there was no point. I was excited myself. Half of Cork has been on to me about tickets and flights and stuff, so there was an unreal atmosphere and energy.

“The players were brilliant with it and they trained brilliantly. I don’t believe in suppressing that enjoyment. What’s the point? I asked them to put in unreal effort throughout pre-season, and last season to stay in the division. If there aren’t moments of joy, or a real carrot at the end, I don’t think there’s any point in doing what we do, so let them enjoy it.”


Source: The42 Podcasts/SoundCloud

When Barry-Murphy was promoted from his role as first-team coach to succeed Keith Hill at Rochdale last March, the club was on course for relegation to League Two following a run of nine defeats from 11 games.

However, the new manager oversaw a drastic improvement for the remainder of the campaign, as the Greater Manchester outfit collected 20 points from a possible 33 to avoid dropping into the bottom tier of the Football League.

Although they were comprehensively beaten at Peterborough United on Saturday, Barry-Murphy’s side have enjoyed an otherwise encouraging start to the new campaign.

Their attractive brand of football has also generated plenty of attention, particularly on the back of a brilliantly worked goal in their recent win against Southend United, which involved Irish trio Jimmy Keohane, Stephen Dooley and Eoghan O’Connell.

In the latest instalment of The Football Family, which is exclusive to The42 members, Barry-Murphy reflected on his time in England, which began 20 years ago when he left Cork City to join a Preston North End side managed by David Moyes.

He also discussed his decision to pursue a different sporting path to the one forged by his father, who was a six-time All-Ireland medal winner during his playing career with Cork.

The former Republic of Ireland U21 international had been keen to emulate Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s GAA success until a professional football career became a tangible prospect.

“There was maybe some sort of relief for me there subconsciously that I could go and just kind of be a nobody and kind of make my own path really, rather than being Jimmy’s son,” he said.

Hear Brian Barry-Murphy’s story in Episode Six of The Football Family – and receive plenty of other benefits too — by becoming a member. It’ll cost you just €5 per month (or €42 for an entire year) and you can sign up by clicking here.  

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