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Without a goal for Ireland, it's not inconceivable that Daryl Murphy will start a group game in France

The Ipswich Town striker will be hoping to score his first goal for Ireland at Euro 2016.

Daryl Murphy started both legs of the play-off against Bosnia.
Daryl Murphy started both legs of the play-off against Bosnia.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

GOALSCORING WAS BECOMING so easy for Daryl Murphy in the 2014-15 campaign, that he decided to let a family member play in Ipswich’s attack in the season just gone.

Well, that’s according to his Ipswich town manager Mick McCarthy, who facetiously said after Murphy’s hat-trick against Rotherham United back in November, “I said ‘welcome back Murph, we don’t want to see your sister again who’s been playing in recent weeks’.”

McCarthy’s light-hearted comments came after Murphy ended a run of 13 league games without a goal, having been the Championship’s top scorer the previous season, scoring 27 times in 48 matches.

The hat-trick against Rotherham, which ended his barren spell, was the first of his professional career.

His upsurge in goalscoring form for Ipswich was a surprise for many fans. Prior to his exploits in the 2014-15 season, Murphy had scored just 50 goals in 299 appearances during his time in both England and Scotland.

But he is a player that McCarthy has always rated highly. It was the former Republic of Ireland manager who brought Murphy from Waterford United to Sunderland in June 2005 for €170,000.

Since McCarthy’s appointment at Portman Road, Murphy looks at home at Ipswich. In fact, the 33 year-old has had three different loan spells in total at the East Anglia club; twice while at Celtic and once while at Sunderland.

The move to the Tractor Boys on a permanent basis, has allowed Murphy to introduce more consistency in his game, previously his form stuttered by being played out of position, on the left-wing, rather than his more effective position as a striker.

An optimist would suggest that niggling injuries this year has hampered his form and there is no reason why Murphy can’t go and continue to score goals.

In recent seasons, players such as Rickie Lambert with Southampton and Grant Holt with Norwich, have demonstrated that the autumn of your career, can also prove to be the most fruitful.

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It’s well documented though that the 33-year-old has yet to find the back of the net for Ireland, despite having played 20 times for his country.

And in truth, has never really looked like scoring. At times, it is hard to understand what exactly Murphy brings to the side. If Murphy was a couple of inches smaller, Anthony Pilkington, David McGoldrick or even Adam Rooney could have been going to France instead.

Martin O’Neill though has always favoured a tall forward in his starting line-up throughout his managerial career; Emile Heskey at Leicester City, John Hartson and Chris Sutton at Celtic and John Carew at Aston Villa, to name a few.

Consequently, it is not inconceivable that the Waterford native will start one of the group games in France, having started the crucial home qualifiers against Scotland and Germany in this qualifying campaign as well as the two legs in the play-off against Bosnia albeit with Shane Long carrying a slight knock in November. O’Neill may well decide at some stage over the course of the tournament that starting Murphy will tire the opposition defence with Long deployed in the super-sub role.

Roy Keane said yesterday that some players were lucky to be on the plane to France, and you could say Murphy is in that category. Ireland are desperately short in the striking positions with a lack of attacking options for Martin O’Neill to chose from.

Murphy has acknowledged in the past that international football brings a different challenge than the Championship in England. One of the biggest differences strikers say about playing in the second tier compared to the Premier League is that against a higher calibre of defender, you may get just one chance in a game, and you have to take it, while in the Championship you may get several opportunities in a match.

This was evident again with his one chance against Belarus in Cork on Tuesday, but for whatever reason, a lack of confidence or lack of form, he fluffed his lines. However if Murphy was to score a goal to send Ireland through the knockout stages in France his barren run in front of goal will all be forgotten about.

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Shane Costello

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