From struggling with homesickness early in his career, to becoming the Championship’s top scorer this season, Irish international Daryl Murphy has had to deal with a variety of ups and downs in his lengthy career.
Here Rob Lyons charts the rebirth of the Ipswich Town goal machine.
Recalled to the Ireland squad in March 2014, Murphy has fully-deserved his place back in the national side, with his performances in the Championship this season indicating that Murphy could be the future for Ireland’s strike-force.
Starting his career at Luton in 2000, Murphy found it difficult to make an impact and was loaned to Harrow Borough in 2002.
From here, Murphy moved back to his native Waterford to play with United for until 2005. Often a perilous step backwards in an Irish player’s career, it was to prove the opposite for Murphy as he featured for Ireland’s under-21 side and eventually earned a move to the north-east of England with Sunderland.
Moving to the Black Cats in 2005, Murphy was loaned out to Sheffield Wednesday almost immediately. The following season (2006/07), however Murphy found his feet at the Stadium of Light and notched ten goals and featured in all but eight Championship games as the Black Cats gained promotion back to the Premier League.
At the end of this impressive season at Sunderland, the 31-year-old was rewarded with his first international cap against Ecuador on the 24th of May 2007.
Although the Waterford man featured heavily in Sunderland’s Premier League campaign the next season, he only amassed three league goals.
From here Murphy’s regularity in Sunderland’s squad petered out, eventually joining current club Ipswich Town on loan in 2010, before moving onto his boyhood club, Celtic.
Murphy scored just three goals for the Hoops and was again loaned out to Ipswich for two successive spells, eventually joining the Tractor Boys on a permanent deal in 2013.
Having spent a few seasons without doing much in the way of goalscoring, where it looked as though Murphy’s career was set for stagnation, the striker has come to the fore once more, even more prominently this time than his 2006/07 season with the Black Cats.
Although he has yet to get on the scoresheet for his country, since returning in March last year, Murphy’s finishing ability in the Championship is surely a positive sign for Irish football as we edge closer to the next round of Euro 2016 qualifiers.
With a reliance on players from the Championship in Ireland’s starting XI, rather than the Premier League in recent years, one hopes that Murphy’s magnificent displays in England’s second tier can be translated to the top flight next season should Ipswich go up. They currently sit just two points off table-toppers Bournemouth.
He’s hit a purple patch, and although now 31, the rebirth of Daryl Murphy looks to have been timed to perfection with crucial qualifying games against Poland at the end of next month and Scotland in the summer.
Robbie Keane is still Ireland’s talisman up-front but if there was ever a time for Murphy to take the mantle from the 34-year-old, now is that time.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena