Even at 38, Joe Murphy still enjoys preparing for matchday like he did 20 years ago, writes Lewis Cox.
But the Irishman will not be flustered by the third-round replay against Championship side Bristol City, even though European and world champions Liverpool lie in wait for the winners.
Murphy showed his ability with a couple of fine saves for Sam Ricketts’ side in the first tie that finished 1-1 at Ashton Gate 10 days ago and backs himself to be ready for tonight’s test.
“I’m 38 now, I’ve prepared (for games) for 22 years now. Once my mind is on it I can get through 90 minutes of football. It’s not as if I’m doing 10 or 11 kilometres that the boys are doing,” said goalkeeper Murphy, a veteran of 24 seasons and more than 600 career games.
“As long as I get myself done mentally then I’ll be prepared.
“Most of the lads are experienced in there. We’ve got a couple of young lads in the squad I know, but there’s enough experience in there.
“We do take one game at a time but in this case we know what’s coming next. Hopefully we can get a decent result and really look forward to the big one.”
Murphy has history with Premier League leaders Liverpool. He came on as a substitute on his top-flight debut for West Brom in the 2002/03 season and made an instant impact, saving a penalty from Michael Owen.
“It’s a massive coup for the club and the players, but we’ve got to get past a very good team,” Murphy added.
“It’s a great draw. People are talking about the FA Cup losing its history but this is great, great for the fans and could be a great upturn in form for clubs.
“But we’ve got Bristol City to think about and that’s all we’ll be thinking about.
“It’s a big incentive for us to go out and get the job done.
“The fans know what the carrot is if we get a result. Another performance like we did down there will be great and hopefully that can get us over the line.
“I’ve been fortunate to get in the fifth or sixth round in a couple of years with smaller teams playing bigger teams. It might have lost whatever at the higher level, but one of the top teams always seem to win it. Someone told me when I was a kid breaking through that you don’t get many chances to play in the FA Cup.
“If you have a long career you might get 10 or 12 chances. It’s a massive competition from non-league to the top teams so try to stay in it as long as possible for a dream draw.”
Murphy has already enjoyed some penalty heroics in his half a season at Montgomery Waters Meadow. He made a league debut stop from 12 yards to deny Peterborough star Marcus Maddison on Bonfire Night.
Tonight’s tie will head to a shootout if the scores are level after 120 minutes and Town’s experienced custodian has enjoyed his fair share.
“The analyst will come up with penalty (videos), we watch them before every game, the former Tranmere, Scunthorpe and Bury keeper added.
“It’s always hard in a shootout because you have to try to remember a lot of penalties.
“Goalkeeper coaches try to give you things, directions, or right something down on a water bottle. But people change the direction under pressure.
“Hopefully we get it done before that.”
Murphy, in because O’Leary was refused permission to play by his parent club, added: “I fancy myself in a shootout, I seem to have done well in the past but hopefully it doesn’t get to that stage.
“I’ve been involved in a few. I had one in a play-off semi-final and have saved a few on my debuts.
“They’re all down to looking at the player, his run up, and going with it.
“You can be the hero or if you don’t get near them you say they are all good penalties!”
The Championship Robins enjoyed a 2-0 league win on the road at Wigan on Saturday and are ninth, just a point from the play-offs.