Sunday 18 February 2018

Keogh: McClean had promised assist

Derby defender Richard Keogh, centre, marked his Ireland debut with a goal against Georgia
Derby defender Richard Keogh, centre, marked his Ireland debut with a goal against Georgia

Richard Keogh has revealed James McClean delivered on a promise when he set him up for his first international goal.

The 26-year-old headed Ireland into a 42nd-minute lead against 10-man Georgia on Sunday evening as he connected with the Sunderland winger's inviting free-kick. Ireland went on to win the friendly 4-0 with further goals from Simon Cox and a Robbie Keane double, but it was Keogh's effort which set the ball rolling after McClean had predicted he would pick him out.

The Derby defender, who was making his first start for his country, said: "It's funny, actually, he actually said to me before the game, 'I'm going to set you one up tomorrow', so we were having a bit of a laugh about that when I scored."

He added: "It was just one of those. Andy [Keogh] went for it and I thought he was going to miss it and I just got on the end of it, and to see it fly in was probably one of the best feelings I have had.

"It's probably the best goal I have ever scored. It will live with me forever. I am really proud. I'm a bit lost for words, really, it couldn't have gone any better.

"Obviously to get the start was important - I just wanted to get out there and show the manager what I can do, and to top it off with a goal and the first goal, it couldn't have gone any better, really."

The win, which came four days after a creditable 1-1 draw with England at Wembley, set up Giovanni Trapattoni's men perfectly for Friday night's World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands at the Aviva Stadium.

Keogh is likely to return to the role of substitute for that game as Trapattoni's restores his senior men to the starting line-up, but the two results have significantly boosted morale ahead of the qualifier and the mouth-watering friendly against World and European champions Spain in New York which will follow it.

He said: "We are on a nice little run now. Coming on the back of the performance against England, it was important we carried it on.

"It's been great, and hopefully we can take it on to the Faroes, get the win there and then look forward to the New York trip. It's obviously against great opposition, but it's going to be a great experience for everyone."

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