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Dublin: 15°C Saturday 31 October 2020

Gearóid Morrissey is still on a high after last night's 'surreal' debut at Old Trafford

The 23-year-old from Cork made a dream start to his Cambridge career at the home of Manchester United.

WHEN GEARÓID MORRISSEY made his final appearance for Cork City last October, he probably had an inkling that his next game of competitive football would be in England.

However, the promising young midfielder certainly didn’t think that his next port of call would be Old Trafford. Last night, Morrissey made his debut for his new club Cambridge United in their FA Cup fourth-round replay at the home of Manchester United.

Soccer - FA Cup - Fourth Round - Replay - Manchester United v Cambridge United - Old Trafford Gearóid Morrissey (left) with Chris Smalling's shirt after last night's game at Old Trafford, while team-mate Tom Champion gets his own souvenir from Juan Mata. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

The 23-year-old Corkonian has endured a difficult time with injuries recently, and although Cambridge suffered a 3-0 defeat to the Premier League giants, the experience was one Morrissey will cherish for the rest of his life.

“I’m buzzing off it. Maybe in a couple of months it’ll properly sink in and I’ll be able to look back and realise how massive it was,” Morrissey told The42.

“It was surreal. The most surreal part was getting to the ground, walking around the pitch and just taking it all in. But as soon as the game kicked off it was just like a normal game.

“You don’t even think about it. There was something like 74,000 people there but that doesn’t really register. But after the game then again you kind of look around and think, fuckin’ hell, that was a big deal.”

Morrissey was introduced as a substitute in place of former United player Luke Chadwick in the 51st minute of last night’s game. It was the 23-year-old’s first appearance for the League Two club following his move from Cork City in December.

Despite lining up opposite the likes of Mata, Rooney, Van Persie and Di Maria in front of a packed house in one of the world’s most iconic grounds, Morrissey says he didn’t experience any nerves.

“I was just eager to get on the pitch, just so I could say I played at Old Trafford. I wasn’t really nervous at all. But then when you’re on, the ball just doesn’t stop moving with them.

“You don’t see it that much yourself, you’re just constantly trying to cover passes. They do things so effortlessly, it’s just another level entirely. But that’s the aim. It shows you where you are, and where you need to get to.

“Even watching them in the warm-up, there’s so much you pick up from them as a player. So then when you’re on the pitch actually playing against them, you learn so much it’s incredible,” explained Morrissey, who exchanged shirts with United defender Chris Smalling afterwards.

“There’s still a bit of Old Trafford on my boots too at the moment so I might keep that there. A few of the lads spoke to Mata and Rooney after the game, and to be fair they were very obliging and courteous. They were really nice guys.”

Soccer - FA Youth Cup - Third Round - Charlton Athletic v Blackburn Rovers - Stonebridge Road Morrissey playing for Blackburn in 2008. Source: EMPICS Sport

Morrissey is now in his second spell in English football, having joined Blackburn Rovers at the age of 16. He moved back to Ireland two years later to join hometown club Cork City, for whom he was a pivotal player for five seasons.

At such a young age, his first stint in England was tough, but a more mature Gearóid Morrissey is now ready for this new challenge and he’s keen to play his part in Cambridge’s push for promotion to League One.

He said: “There’s no homesickness now. It’s different when you’re an adult living here instead of a child. Things are looking good at the minute. The manager here has faith in me so I’m eager to just get fully fit, get a place in the team and get results.”

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Paul Dollery

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