They say timing is everything, and in the career of St. Patrick’s Athletic goalkeeper Barry Murphy that has certainly been the case- though not always to his favour.
“I’ve been at the start of things at certain clubs and the end of things at certain clubs,” he says in somewhat understated terms, “I left Rovers when they were kind of coming into form and Bohs when they were kind of going out of form.”
As the power shift in Irish football moved across Dublin from Bohemians to Shamrock Rovers in 2009, Murphy went the other way.
But now at 27 things are finally starting to look up for the Rathfarnham man.
After a slow start to his Inchicore career in which he made only four starts, Murphy has established himself as first choice in emphatic fashion – they’ve yet to lose a match since he took over from Brendan Clarke in August.
His eight clean sheets in that time have helped Pat’s to the FAI Cup Final next month and if they can overcome Sligo in Saturday’s clash at the Showgrounds the gap will be cut to just three points with two games to go.
The season could then well be decided then by two ties against Derry, one in the second last game of the league and one in the cup.
With Sligo hosting a Rovers side looking to restore pride on the final day of the season, Murphy knows that if Pat’s can stay the pace he could be picking up the third and fourth medals of his career. A somewhat paltry return for a player of his calibre, and he is confident that more medals will come at Pat’s.
“That’s the one thing I’m missing at the moment is a few medals,” he admits, “but we’ve started to build something here at Pat’s.
“We’ve started something now that hopefully this year will produce some kind of silverware and in years to come we’ll build on that.
“If we get another year under our belt you never know what could happen this time next year, and maybe at the end of this year we might have something to show in the league or in the cup.”
After a career spent flirting with success but never managing to taste it Murphy more than anyone wants this Pat’s project to succeed.
At Rovers he was a crowd favourite, coming into the team midway through the club’s worst season with only a few U21 appearances to his name.
“Roddy [Collins, the then Rovers manager] just threw me in. Literally, he just told me in the dressing room before he named the team,” he says of his senior debut as an 18 year old.
Rovers were relegated at the end of that season but Murphy picked up Young Player and Player of the Year and looked an integral part of Rovers team that was destined for great things.
Unfortunately for Murphy though that only half came true, he lost his place in the team to the now St. Johnstone keeper Alan Mannus and felt cut adrift by manager Michael O’Neill.
“Things started to get better at Rovers,” he says, “we were moving up towards titles and things but me and Michael O’Neill didn’t see eye-to-eye on certain things and kind of fell out.
“I’d great affiliation with Rovers but things change at a club and when you feel like you weren’t going to get a chance, or in future get a chance. You have to decide to move on.
“And when Pat Fenlon comes in for you, you can’t really say no, especially when you’re getting the chance to play first team football in a title winning side.”
His hero status evaporated at Rovers having departed for their bitter rivals, the club didn’t even issue a press release upon his departure but Murphy was confident he’d made the right decision, only for things to unravel almost immediately.
“I’d only been there and the financial things kicked in and we were told there was going to be wage cuts,” he says, “and it does effect players, then obviously at the end of the year you lose a lot of your quality players.”
Murphy stayed on for the second season and enjoyed his time with a young team, “they were hungry lads and it was a joy to play with them.”
But when Liam Buckley came calling after being appointed in the summer he jumped at the chance and was happy to wait for his opportunity.
“Even though I haven’t been playing for most of the season, I’ve felt at home,” he says.
“I felt good going to training and I got on well with the lads and the people around the club, and obviously the management have been brilliant. I’ve enjoyed all my time here, I was just biting at the bit to get in.”
And since he’s got in he has impressed, showing some of the attributes that marked him out as one of the better players in the league in previous seasons – and that is in no small part due to Buckley, whom he speaks of with an almost wide-eyed admiration.
“He’s just so calm before games. You can see he was a player and wants to still be out there, he’s kicking every ball with us and he’s just so enthusiastic that it rubs off on everyone else.
“I think the main thing about him is he fills you full of confidence going out in games, it’s not a pressure based situation. We put our own pressures on but he just wants you to go out and play.”
To catch Sligo though will take more than just confidence, the Westerners have played like champions since the start of the season which Murphy acknowledges, but he says Pat’s still have a chance.
“Last year they came close with Rovers and pushed them all the way and they had another year’s training together and added a bit of quality as well.
“That’s something we’ll be looking to do in the close season. But we’re there or thereabouts this year and we’re still in with a chance of the cup.
“We started this year and look how close we are in the league and that’s with a brand new team of maybe 10 or 12 players and if we get another year under our belt you never know what this could happen this time next year. But maybe at the end of this year we might have something to show in the league or in the cup.”