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'It breaks my heart... I came home to play for my hometown club and that's possibly my last game'

Veteran goalkeeper Brian Murphy expressed his sadness and anger after Waterford were relegated last night.

Waterford goalkeeper Brian Murphy.
Waterford goalkeeper Brian Murphy.
Image: Evan Treacy/INPHO

AN EMOTIONAL Brian Murphy expressed his sadness after a 2-1 defeat to UCD saw Waterford relegated to the First Division.

The 38-year-old goalkeeper has had a long career in the game, starting out as a youngster at Man City and encompassing stints with Swansea, Ipswich, QPR, Bohs and Portsmouth among others.

He said last night’s match could be his last as a Waterford player, having signed for the club from Cardiff in 2020, and conceded that UCD deserved their victory.

“They were just better than us all over the pitch,” he told reporters. “I’m just so disappointed for the lads. It breaks my heart really.”

It’s been a remarkable few days for Waterford. Manager Marc Bircham was sacked on Tuesday in a move that overshadowed the build-up to the game.

Ex-Tottenham defender Ian Hendon was brought in as manager at short notice, but his arrival could not prevent a costly defeat.

While unhappy with recent developments behind the scenes, Murphy did not want to go into too much detail on the matter.

“It had a massive effect on us. We worked so hard to get in the position and we shot ourselves in the foot again. We had a manager over for two days but, like, I’m just a bit angry, to be honest.

“I’m not going to elaborate on it tonight because it’s raw. We worked so hard since Marc came in in May and we fell short, we’ve fallen short for a few weeks now. We’ve worked so hard, we have a small squad. I came home to play for my hometown club at the end of my career and that’s possibly my last game for the club, I don’t know yet.

“There are a lot of young lads in there who just needed guidance but it was late in the week that things were sorted out. I don’t know, it’s just very raw at the moment. I don’t know what to say, to be honest.

“I’ve been relegated a couple of times in my career with probably bigger clubs. But you saw what it means to Waterford over the last couple of months. When crowds came back, they were filling the place. It was a big connection between the club, the manager and the players and we haven’t had that since probably the last time the club was bought, it’s just such a shame that we have to go out the way we have done.

“We fell short, we probably shot ourselves in the foot in the last few weeks in games when we’ve been in winning positions, just couldn’t hold onto it. That’s probably where our group is at the moment. We have a small squad, a young squad, a bit of experience and that, but I think UCD were just very good tonight and that’s no excuse on the football pitch, we weren’t at our best. In football, whether you deserve it or not, you get what you deserve.”

Asked to elaborate on why he feels he may have played his last game for Waterford, the veteran stopper said: “I don’t know whether they want to keep me in the First Division. I have the ambition to play on but it’s raw at the moment.

“In 90 minutes, over the course of the season, it’s been chaotic in the club for a while and since everything changed and the club was bought, you’d walk down the street and the buzz was about the place, people were going to the games who haven’t been at games in years and you know there was a great positivity around, even from the press. 

“I’ve been away for 20 years with my career so I’ve not been here much but you always keep an eye and that, you have to go back a long time for that buzz. And it ended tonight. I’m sure the club will bounce back but everyone has to reassess where they’re going with their career and where they want to be but it’s hard to talk about it at the moment.”

On his reaction to Tuesday’s surprise news, Murphy added: “Bewildered, annoyed, I was upset as anyone would be in the week of the biggest game in, I won’t say history, but in the last few years, for what was at stake.

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“In any walk of life, that shouldn’t happen when you have a massive game coming up. There are a lot of, I don’t know the ins and outs of what happened, I’m a player, I’m paid to play football, that’s it.

“But to say did it disrupt us? It did. But there is no denying that UCD were the better team today. You can all see that. I have to look back at the game but we scored early and then we just couldn’t get going in terms of how we wanted to play.

“So disappointing for that group of players. Some great young lads who have worked so hard. If you look at the form over the last 20 games, we’ve been pretty good, we would have been pushing for Europe if we didn’t have the start we had. I can go on and on but I feel I’m repeating myself.” 

Bircham joined the travelling support in attending Friday night’s fixture, but Murphy said he had “no idea” his former manager was at the ground.

“I spoke to him [after he left], I wanted to find out as a senior player. I’ve known Marc a long time, from QPR days and stuff, it happens. I’ve seen many managers come and go in my career so it’s no surprise when one goes but it probably wasn’t great for us. Again, it just goes back to tonight, we weren’t good enough. 

“We’ve missed a striker all season. It was in our head to play the way we played tonight a little bit because we thought we could break them down a different way, set pieces troubled them at the start of the game more so than as it continued.

“It’s a bit of everything, the staff that have been here have been incredible this year, Ian [Hendon] coming in in a difficult situation for him, he wanted the best for us over the last couple of days. As players, we take full responsibility because at the end of the day we’re the ones on the pitch and we’re the ones who couldn’t get the result.”

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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