In recent years, several top Irish talents have stood out on the domestic Irish football scene from a young age before making a trip across to the biggest teams in the UK. Galway lad Alex Murphy can join the likes of Evan Ferguson and Gavin Bazunu as he impressed in a pre-season for Newcastle United against fellow Premier League titans Chelsea.
Just a year ago, Murphy was playing for Galway United in the League of Ireland First Division where he made his debut at just 16 years of age against Athlone Town in 2020 before going on to make over 30 appearances for the club.
Following the confirmation of his move last July, the Annaghdown man said “It’s a really good feeling like one of the biggest clubs in England are after you.”
While Newcastle may be a massive club with players such as Brazilian star Bruno Guimarães and Sweden’s highly rated Alexander Isak along with a huge and very passionate fanbase, that certainly didn’t intimidate Alex.
The defender trained with the first team during the 2022/2023 season and featured in first-team friendly matches such as a 5-0 win over Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal SFC in Riyadh in December 2022. Murphy also captained the Newcastle under-21 side.
It isn’t just on the club side where Murphy has made an impression. He has made seven appearances for the Ireland under-19 side.
Despite his experience at the top underage level, last week's appearance in the pre-season friendly at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia was a huge milestone for the 19-year-old.
Initially having been named on the bench for the Premier League Summer Series clash, an injury to teammate Fabian Schar meant an early introduction for Murphy in the 33rd minute and he earned rave reviews from Newcastle fans after the side managed to avoid conceding after Murphy’s introduction at the back.
One Newcastle United fan page on Twitter said Murphy “looked assured, solid and not out of place at all,” while another said he was “superb when he came on.”
Murphy was clearly buzzing after the game and told NUFCTV: “Yeah, I don't think it can get much bigger than that to be fair, a team like Chelsea. It's massive.”
He added, “Once I heard I was coming on, I was absolutely buzzing. I was obviously nervous, but when you get on the pitch, it's just another game really, like you're playing with your friends at home.”
Despite moving to one of the biggest clubs in England, Murphy showed great class and was sure to remember his roots and the importance of his time at Galway United for his development.
He told NUFCTV: “I can't thank Galway enough, like. I was there for two years, I went in when I was 16, and learning off pros there every day is just so valuable, and then when you step in with these lads it's a step up again.”
Hopefully, Murphy can continue his hard work and development next season after such a fantastic opportunity this summer. He said the plan is to “hopefully get more minutes, just impress again. Do my best and get in the manager's head and just make an impression.”Featured Image Credit: Getty Images