By David Hennessy
“I’m just delighted to be here now: An Ipswich player,” The Tractor Boys’ Irish summer signing from Celtic Daryl Murphy tells The Irish World. While he has been playing for Ipswich since 2010, Murphy’s appearances in the blue and white strip have been as a loan player from Sunderland and later from Celtic. However, in June this year, the move was made official with the Republic of Ireland international putting pen to paper on a two-year deal to play for Mick McCarthy’s Championship side.
“It feels a lot better because any time I’ve been on loan, I’ve come after the season has started. To be here for the pre-season, do all the running and being involved in games, has been really good and I think I’ve seen the benefits of that fitness wise and in the part I’ve played on the pitch as well.”
Daryl is obviously eager to be involved in the new campaign with his new club but was it sad for him to leave Celtic with all it means to Irish football fans? “Yeah, in a way it was but I’m not one for sitting on the bench and just being at a great club like Celtic. I’m not one to just sit there and say I’ve played for Celtic. I need to play football and it was as simple as that. As soon as I knew I wasn’t going to get in the team no matter what I did, it was always the case that I was going to go on loan and I’m absolutely delighted with how it panned out. Obviously I would have liked if it had worked out at Celtic but sometimes these things don’t happen.”
While he spent some of his youth career with Luton Town, it was with Irish league side Waterford United that Murphy first made the breakthrough, scoring 53 times between 2002 and 2005 before joining Sunderland. He scored some vital goals for the Black Cats in his five years at the Stadium of Light although he was also loaned out to Sheffield Wednesday as well as Ipswich. After moving to Celtic with his Irish team mate Anthony Stokes in 2010, Daryl would find chances limited at Parkhead and feature more for Ipswich in his loan spells there than with the Scottish giants.
Ipswich have started their Championship campaign strongly and Murphy has felt the benefits of an early start and a pre-season trip home that saw the Waterford man score against Airtricity League side Shelbourne: “We’ve been back, quite early, since June 21. The lads have come back in pretty good shape and I think the manager was very happy with that and we’ve played well in our games that we’ve played.”
Murphy has earned eight Republic of Ireland caps but 2008, still very early in the current manager’s reign, was the last time Trapattoni gave him the chance. Is it a personal goal of his to get himself back into Giovanni Trapattoni’s thinking? “I think it is possible and I would love to, don’t get me wrong. I’ve always enjoyed playing for my country. I would do it at the drop of a hat but I have to be playing, and consistently, for Ipswich in order for that to happen. I’d love that but my main focus for this season is to get in the (Ipswich) team, be a regular, score goals and hopefully help the team win games on a regular basis and then whatever happens after that will be a bonus.”
In former Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy, the Tractor Boys have a manager who has led both Sunderland and Wolves to the Premiership. Is promotion being spoken about in the dressing room as the target at this early stage? “We haven’t really talked about it to be honest. We want to get promoted but we’ll be looking at definitely making the play-offs and anything above that will be a bonus. I think a lot of the lads are optimistic about the season. The gaffer’s done really well to get the players that we have and we’ve got a lot of young players as well who are really good, hungry: Everyone’s kept on their toes. We’ve got a lot of competition for places this year whereas we’ve probably not had it in the last two or three years and I think that’s credit to the gaffer and what he’s achieved here. I think we’ll definitely be up at the play-offs anyway if you ask any of the lads.”
Daryl can’t seem to speak too highly of McCarthy and it is well deserved with the impact he has already had at Ipswich. While the former Republic of Ireland manager inherited a team that were rock bottom of English football’s second tier in November last season, he led them well clear of the drop zone to 14th place. Murphy and McCarthy have a long working relationship as it was his current manager that signed Daryl from Waterford United when he was in charge of Sunderland, making this the second time he has signed the 30 year old marksman: “He’s been absolutely brilliant and I think (assistant manager) Terry Connor needs a mention as well because the two of them work so well together. On the training pitch, it’s been brilliant. It’s been a breath of fresh air to be honest because I’ve known the gaffer through my time at Sunderland and he brought me over and to see him when he got the job was absolutely brilliant. I was delighted for him because he’s such a good manager and proven at this level so many times, he’s repeatedly had hard organised teams that you wouldn’t want to play against. His man management skills are the best I’ve worked with as a manager and not every manager has that and I think it helps the players on and off the pitch.”
For the full interview, see the August 24 print edition of The Irish World.