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A childhood dream realised as 'proud' O'Shea continues remarkable rise

The defender from Dublin made his senior international debut in the Uefa Nations League clash with Finland.

Dara O'Shea is tracked by Fredrik Jensen during the Republic of Ireland's defeat to Finland.
Dara O'Shea is tracked by Fredrik Jensen during the Republic of Ireland's defeat to Finland.
Image: Kalle Parkkinen/INPHO

Updated Oct 15th 2020, 9:30 PM

THERE WERE MIXED emotions for Dara O’Shea in the aftermath of the Republic of Ireland’s defeat to Finland in the Uefa Nations League.

He was of course disappointed about the outcome, as Ireland’s bid to secure the first win of Stephen Kenny’s tenure failed at the fifth attempt.

However, the 21-year-old was understandably beaming with pride at having earned his first international cap at senior level.

With the likes of John Egan, Derrick Williams and Darragh Lenihan unavailable, O’Shea was summoned on Sunday from Pisa, where he had been preparing to play for the Ireland U21s in yesterday’s European Championship qualifier against Italy.

Instead, he was catapulted into Kenny’s team, starting alongside Shane Duffy in the centre of defence in the 1-0 loss at Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium.

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“It’s definitely frustrating,” O’Shea said of the result. “I don’t feel like we should be losing games like that. We didn’t deserve to lose the game so it’s a bit of a kick in the teeth. We created chances and the ball just wouldn’t go into the back of the net.”

The game was settled by a 66th-minute goal from Fredrik Jansen, who scored from close range despite O’Shea’s best efforts. The decisive moment stemmed from an uncharacteristic Darren Randolph error, after his short goal-kick was intercepted by Teemu Pukki.

O’Shea added: “You’ll get punished if you make mistakes like that at this level. We’ve just got to pick ourselves up now and continue the good work.”

Having not missed a minute of the current Premier League campaign with West Bromwich Albion to date, O’Shea acquitted himself well over the course of his Ireland debut.

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darren-randolph-and-dara-oshea-after-the-game Dara O'Shea with Darren Randolph after Ireland's loss in Finland. Source: Kalle Parkkinen/INPHO

“I felt comfortable,” he said. “I really enjoyed it. From start to finish I loved it. It’s been my dream since I was a kid to play for Ireland at senior level and I’ve done that now. It was amazing, but the result is the disappointing part of the night.

“It’s been a mad couple of days, obviously preparing for Italy and then getting the call to fly out and meet the lads in Ireland for potentially playing against Finland. You dream of getting that call. 

“Obviously I wasn’t picked in the initial squad so it was nice to be called in. Mentally I just knew myself that, if called upon, I had to perform and give a good account of myself. That’s what I tried to do. The result didn’t help but I really enjoyed it.”

The St Kevin’s Boys product has enjoyed a remarkable rise. Just over two years ago he was cutting his teeth with a spell at non-league outfit Hereford. He gained further experience while on loan with Exeter City in League Two, before starring for West Brom last season as they achieved promotion from the Championship.

“It’s mad if you look at where I came from two or three years ago, playing in the seventh tier of English football to playing in the Premier League and getting a cap for the [Ireland] senior team,” he said. 

“It’s amazing. It’s what I dreamt of, it’s what I’ve been working towards since I was a little boy, and I’m just very proud to have played. It’s obviously amazing for my family as well. To put on the shirt and play is a great feeling.”

About the author:

Paul Dollery

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