Daryl Murphy: ‘I think we just rise to the occasion in big games’
Player reaction: Two-goal hero knew he had to produce after being handed chance
Ireland’s Daryl Murphy celebrates his first goal with team-mates during the World Cup qualifier against Moldova. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
Daryl Murphy strolls through the mixed zone the picture of contentment, a match-winner’s smile playing on his lips. We suggest to him that he’s an overnight success at the age of 34 and he takes it like the joint leading scorer in Ireland’s campaign should. Delightedly and wholeheartedly, his goalless, soulless days in an Ireland jersey behind him for tonight at least.
“Looks like it, doesn’t it?” he says. “Ah no, it was brilliant. The gaffer gave me the start tonight and I knew I needed to produce. I knew that I would get chances and it was just a case of taking them when they came.
“It’s just hard work over the years and keeping believing in yourself. I came into this season scoring a few goals so the confidence was high coming here and once the manager gave me the nod, I needed to produce.
“You just keep going. With age, you mature and you just realise that you need to keep working hard and working at the things you’re good at. Then, hopefully, it will all fall into place. I think I was always fairly confident. It was probably more frustration when I was younger. As I’ve got older, I’ve put that to the side and realised that there’s no point dwelling on the past, just look to the next one.”
For David Meyler, his first night as Ireland captain came as a happy pre-game surprise – O’Neill only told him when they got to the stadium – but he made sure to stress that it was a temporary loan from Séamus Coleman. Whatever about that, he played his role, keeping Ireland ticking throughout the night.
“Look we knew we had to win, they are no mugs,” says the Cork midfielder. “They are professional footballers, although you will find they didn’t cause us too much problems, they were reduced to long distance shots and that. Overall, I would say we were comfortable.
“We are all chuffed. The first goal we worked on it. We got the reward, it was good. For the second Wes fired it out to Wardy, then Murph got on the end of it. He has been doing stuff like that all his career so I was delighted for him. Shane [Long] could probably have got another couple of goals for himself.”
Attention had already turned to Wales on Monday by the time the first players made it to the team bus. We gave Shane Duffy a chance to say what the players really feel about Gareth Bale missing the game for Wales, Roy Keane having played down its significance a few days back.
“Of course!” smiles Duffy. “A team without Gareth Bale is better for us. But as Roy said during the week, we’re missing key players as well, they’re just as big players for us as he is for Wales. But listen, whoever plays on the day are still good players who are playing well in the Premier League. It’s a tough test, two good teams and Wales got to the semi-final of the European Championships.”
The last word goes to Murphy. Going to Cardiff for a do-or-die encounter brings up memories of the Euros and the game against Italy in Lille. Someone throws a suggestion at him that backs-to-the-wall suits this Ireland team, or that it certainly did that night.
“I don’t know, I think we just rise to the occasion in big games. I don’t know what it is, if you look at the big results we’ve had, we knew we had to win and I think it’s just our team spirit and unity really. We all know that we are going to give it everything on the pitch and if we don’t win, we don’t win, but we go out there wanting to win every game.
“We just wanted to win more than [Italy] did and I think they sensed that after the first few minutes. You need to go into games like that, you need more hunger than the other team and as we seen with Robbie [Brady], show a bit of class when needed.”