By Ronan Murphy
Sean Murray has been in outstanding form for Watford in the Championship since the turn of the year. With four goals in seven games during March, he was awarded the Young Player of the Month award, and will no doubt be mentioned by Eamon Dunphy in his next rant about who should be on the plane to Poland.
Watford-born Murray joined his local club as a member of the Hornets' U10 side way back in 2002. He moved up through the ranks at Vicarage Road, catching the eye of FAI scouts who called him up to the Irish U17 panel. Murray qualifies for Ireland through his grandparents, who live in Cabra.
At 17, he signed a professional contract with Watford, having impressed for the academy outfits, and made his senior debut at the end of last season from the bench against QPR.
|SEAN MURRAY - WATFORD AND IRELAND
2011-12: 15 league appearances, 6 goals
International: Ireland under-17, U19
He was handed a starting place the following week against Preston North End in the final game of the 2011-12 campaign.
2011 also saw the teenager promoted to the Ireland U19 squad. He has become a mainstay in a midfield that includes Aston Villa's Samir Carruthers, West Brom's Bradley Garmston and Anthony Forde of Wolves.
Ireland's run at the Uefa European Under-19 Championship ended disastrously in a 5-0 defeat at the hands of eventual winners Spain last summer but Murray played his part in Irish progress to the last four.
Despite starting Watford's final game last season, he found himself back with the under-age sides at the start of the 2011-12 campaign.
However, the FA Cup gave him the chance he needed to shine, and having impressed against Tottenham Hotspur in his first start of the campaign, Murray has kept his place in the first team and scored his first goal for the club in a 3-2 win over Leicester in February.
Sean went on to bag four goals in March, as well as a stunning free kick on Tuesday against Brighton, taking his tally up to six in 15 league games. Along the way he has become a hit with the Watford faithful.
International class | Murray in action for Ireland during last summer's Under-19 Championship
Manager Sean Dyche admitted that starting Murray in the FA Cup was a gamble, but one which has definitely paid off.
"I was questioned about putting him in for the Tottenham game but I think the evidence is quite clear that he is a young man who has a feel for the situation," Dyche told the Watford Observer after the youngster scored against Derby last month.
He added: "It doesn't flummox him and he has a calmness to him - you could see that from his finish. What a calm finish that is, there are no concerns, he just strokes it into the net."Before signing pro terms, Murray was linked with Manchester City, but a new contract signed just three weeks ago will keep the attack-minded midfielder at Vicarage Road until 2015.
Murray has his sights set on the Premier League, and hopes to do so in a yellow shirt: "I'd definitely want to go up with Watford," he told the BBC. "We've pushed on at the back end of this season. At the start of the campaign nobody expected us to be as high as we are. That just shows how good the team ethic is."