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Given buoyed by Irish display


Shay Given

Shay Given

Shay Given

Shay Given and his Republic of Ireland team-mates will return to Euro 2016 battle next year with renewed spirit after soothing the pain of defeat in Scotland.

Martin O'Neill's men travelled to Glasgow on Friday night with high hopes of maintaining an unbeaten start to their Group D campaign.

But they returned to Dublin on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline and back in the thick of a four-way battle with Poland, Germany and the Scots for the two automatic qualification places for the finals in France.

However on Tuesday evening, they eased their disappointment with a 4-1 friendly victory over the United States which was achieved by a side featuring 11 changes to the one which had run out at Celtic Park.

Given said: "We were disappointed, obviously, after Friday night, there's no getting away from that. But the manager said before the game it was important that we finished the calendar year on a high.

"It's a long wait for the next game, of course, but it's a bit better feeling in the head for the fans and for the players that we have actually got a good win and a good performance and scored some good goals as well.

"But obviously the big games again are in March-time and it's a long wait for that, of course. But it's good to finish the year on a bit of a high."

Given, 38, was handed a 127th senior cap for his country and fully justified his selection with a series of fine saves at the Aviva Stadium.

However, it was a trio of men at the other end of the experience scale who captured the imagination as debutants Cyrus Christie and David McGoldrick rivalled 22-year-old winger Robbie Brady in staking their individual claims for future inclusion.

Derby full-back Christie, 22, and 26-year-old Ipswich striker McGoldrick both turned in impressive displays, but it was perhaps Brady who made the biggest impact, starting as a makeshift left-back, but contributing to his side's second and fourth goals.

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Given said: "Robbie had a fantastic finish for the last goal and even his first goal was a great finish as well, well-worked down the left wing.

"Cyrus probably settled into it more in the second half as well when he bombed forward a few times and got some great balls into the box. He's only young as well and he's got a big future ahead of him."

McGoldrick was first to make his mark with a superb through-ball to allow Anthony Pilkington to open the scoring with a delicate seventh-minute finish, his first international goal, and after Mix Diskerud had cancelled out the opener, he set up Brady to restore the home side's lead.

The striker said: "I'm confident in my ability - I would rather have had the two goals myself, but two assists is good, and the win. There were some great players in the team and it was a great experience."

Substitute James McClean gave Ireland breathing space with a deflected 82nd-minute shot, but Brady saved the best until last when he curled a fine free-kick past helpless keeper Bill Hamid three minutes from time to cement the win.

McGoldrick did more than enough to suggest he has a future at international level, but it was perhaps the younger man's display which gave O'Neill even greater reason for optimism.

Until his emergence, Seamus Coleman has been the only senior specialist right-back available to the manager, who last month turned to youngster Brian Lenihan, currently on loan at Blackpool from Hull, in the search for back-up.

Coleman missed last month's qualifiers against Gibraltar and Germany through injury and any tension between his club and the Republic will not have been helped by assistant manager Roy Keane's outspoken comments at the weekend.

However, Christie appears to be a genuine option, and was delighted to have been given a chance to prove himself.

He said: "This is my first international game. I have never, ever been to watch one, so to come and make my debut is a fantastic achievement.

"It's a dream come true. It's something you dream of when you're a kid, so to pull on the Ireland shirt was fantastic."

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