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Ex-Ireland goalkeeper returns to the club where he made his professional debut 21 years ago

Joe Murphy and Tranmere Rovers have been reunited.

LEAGUE TWO SIDE Tranmere Rovers have announced the signing of veteran Irish goalkeeper Joe Murphy.

For the Dubliner, it marks a return to the club where he made his debut as a professional footballer 21 years ago.

soccer-nationwide-league-division-one-manchester-city-v-tranmere-rovers Joe Murphy pictured with Tranmere Rovers during the 1999-2000 season. Source: EMPICS Sport

Having just turned 18, Murphy was given his Tranmere bow by John Aldridge in a First Division (Championship) game during the early stages of the 1999-2000 campaign.

He went on to play in the League Cup final later that season as the Prenton Park outfit suffered a 2-1 defeat to Leicester City in the last decider to be played at the old Wembley.

Murphy, who turned 39 on Friday, has now signed up for his 22nd season of competitive first-team football by signing a one-year contract with the Merseyside outfit. He had been a free agent since his deal at League One club Shrewsbury Town expired in June. 

“He provides the team with a lot of experience,” Tranmere manager Mike Jackson said of his newest recruit. “He knows the football club really well, we have had a really good look at him in the last few weeks. He fits the group and he is a great character. It is a great signing.”

Murphy was named in the League Two Team of the Year last summer after achieving promotion with Bury. With a financial collapse leading to the club’s expulsion from the Football League, he then moved on to Shrewsbury Town.

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Although he spent most of the 2019-20 season providing back-up for Irish-qualified 23-year-old Max O’Leary, he did make 12 appearances across all competitions. In one of those games – a win against Championship side Bristol City – he kept a clean sheet to help Shrewsbury book an FA Cup fourth-round meeting with Liverpool. 

Screen Shot 2020-08-23 at 12.36.16 Source: Tranmere Rovers FC

Murphy was the goalkeeper on the Ireland U16 team that won the European Championship in 1998. He went on to earn two senior caps in friendlies, making his debut under Brian Kerr against Turkey in 2003 and playing against Algeria in 2010 for Giovanni Trapattoni.

He has experienced all four levels of league football in England, having also played for West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League during the 2002-03 season.

Following on from Lee O’Connor’s loan move from Celtic, Murphy is the second Irishman this week to sign for Tranmere, who were relegated from League One in June when a points-per-game method was used to determine final placings after the season was brought to a premature conclusion by Covid-19.

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Paul Dollery

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