Football really is magnificent isn’t it?

Newcastle United could, if they really wanted to, buy any player in the world if the conditions were right. To use the Conservative’s 2022 buzzwords ‘nothing is off the table’

So for the 5th signing since the takeover to be a 17 year old Irish lad from Irelands West coast, it kind of warms the heart. Football does that to me regularly.

Ok its maybe a push to suggest that Murphy can be anyway interpreted as a first team signing and the chances of him playing in the first team anytime soon are non-existent, but even the hardest nosed cynic couldn’t deny the romance in this story. Plus the boost in the fact that if you are good enough you will get found.

Celtic, who have usual first dibs on any young talent in the Republic, Torino and the conveyor belt club of Red Bull Salzburg had all made trips over to where the Atlantic rips in mercilessly to see what all the fuss was about and although the fuss was completely downplayed by all concerned what was to await the scouts was a once in a generation thing for small clubs, a young player who you just know is going to be a good one.

Alex Murphy is his name and United this week completed a dream move for the teenager, who will initially join up with the Under 23s.

This the latest attempt to make Newcastle self-sustaining by actually producing, or in this case, nurturing, actual footballers. This might catch on this players coming through lark.

Although Sunderland fans often like to portray themselves as the academy of football after two England internationals and adding that Newcastle is some sort of youth wasteland despite us regularly producing (usually for other teams) premier league footballers, the general consensus is that as we need to improve as a club- the bubbling underneath part of the football club needs to be dragged,

kicking and screaming into the next level just as much as the first team does. Chelsea and Manchester City, clubs not too shabby when it comes to finances, made hundreds of millions over the last 5 years on players brought from their academies. Sustainability is one thing but business is another. Making your biggest rivals you £11m to you for a player who never played for you must feel brilliant- as City did with United over Sancho.

These owners we have will now want us to be part of all this merry go round , hell if Sunderland is the academy of football, let’s start with nicking the academies much lauded (by them, until he signed for us) Under 23 coach. That’s a start.

Murphy’s move, which will see him stay with Galway until July (they play in the summer) had been talked about in Ireland since April and can you imagine the lads head at that point in time?

He told an Irish podcast earlier in the year that he was “nervous” about making his debut for Galway United. I would imagine his first day at the training ground in July will be head spinning stuff.

Saying that, think of your local football team and think about playing for them. You would be nervous, it’s your team and you know everyone is watching.

Imagine doing that when you’re still at your secondary school. I mean this is serious character building stuff. The League of Ireland isn’t for shrinking violets and for him to be dropped into that environment at that age is phenomenal.  He may not be fazed at all and don’t forget if he does join the under 23 squad he’s possibly up against players 5 years older and premier league regulars.

A recent game saw a player on £180,000 a week playing against a player on £300. It’s the weirdest league going.

So what have Newcastle got then. Murphy has been described as “prodigious” talent by the press in Ireland and he plays either as a ball playing centre half or attacking left back.

Think again what I was saying earlier when you look at his age. Murphy was playing centre half in Ireland’s second tier while he was still at school. The word unforgiving comes to mind.

Like a lot of players that make the grade from the Republic, Murphy looked a better bet to be a hurling player, according to reports, while playing for local side Corrib Celtic.

It’s only this last year where he was invited to be around Galway’s senior squad and he made his debut against Athlone aged 16. He leaves Galway, or at least he will later in the summer having played 26 times for the second tier side who get the obligatory undisclosed fee and a couple of goals in the bargain.

Galway will probably go on to be one of Ireland’s top clubs themselves after being taken over by billionaire property developers, but manager John Caulfield, who was praised by Steve Harper for the way he dealt with the move, spoke of significant investment in the clubs academy. It’s brought immediate rewards.

This deal also takes me back to former scouting forays into the Republic. Joe Kinnear didn’t follow up on £60,000 deal for Seamus Coleman and a lad who came on for Newcastle at Rushden in 1995 alongside Ginola and Ferdinand but turned down Kevin Keegan’s contract offer and went back to Bohemians. That can be filed under misadventure. Can you imagine Keegan’s face?

Hopefully Murphy, who has already played for Ireland youth, can eclipse them all. Good luck, son.

Certainly a feel good story.

Scott Robson