Belfast Telegraph

Friday 21 November 2014

Cliftonville in a rage at Murphy law

Paul Murphy will make his Cliftonville bow when they travel to Linfield tomorrow after agreeing a one-month loan deal at Solitude.

The Newy City keeper was signed on an emergency loan after regular number one John Connolly suffered an injury against Lisburn Distillery on Tuesday.

An Irish FA rule — which the Reds brought to the attention of the governing body — forbids Eddie Patterson using Murphy in Irish Cup, even though he was given special dispensation to play in the three remaining league games — including the Windsor Park clash with the champions tomorrow.

With Connolly and his back-up David Wells both out injured, Patterson moved quickly to bring in an emergency signing.

The Reds claim they were told there would not be a problem with the signing of ex-Ballymena United man, Murphy, but the Challenge Cup Committee at the IFA upheld their own rules.

“We contacted the Irish FA to make sure we could get special dispensation to sign a goalkeeper and were under the impression that it would be a problem,” said Gerard Lawlor, Director of Team Affairs at Solitude.

“We noticed this rule and then brought it to the IFA’s attention and asked for clarification.

“The last thing we wanted to play Paul then find out we had broken the rules but we are very disappointed.”

Cliftonville had hoped common sense would prevail with the sporting integrity of the competition in mind but it seems their hopes have been dashed.

IFA President Raymond Kennedy called an Emergency Meeting of the Challenge Cup Committee late last night where it was decided Murphy was not eligible for the JJB SPorts Irish Cup but was free to play in the three league games.

The Reds could now be forced to play defender Declan O’Hara in goal against the Blues next Tuesday as Solitude boss Eddie Patterson will not risk playing 15-year old youth team keeper Gerard Duff. Murphy, who had been playing second fiddle to Andrew Coleman at Newry, is delighted to play a part in the destination of the Gibson Cup however, after his shock move.

He said: "It was a welcome surprise when I heard that Cliftonville were interested.

"Obviously Newry only have three games left and it had looked as though my season was pretty much over.

"New challenges are always exciting but just take a look at Cliftonville's remaining league games — Linfield, Crusaders and Glentoran. They're matches which will determine who wins the Gibson Cup.

"They are all big matches and I'm looking forward to being a part of them and hopefully doing very well for the team."

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