Dara O'Shea has two Ireland caps. Tommy Dickson/INPHO

From going to Ireland games as a kid to representing them at Wembley

Unlike most, Dara O’Shea has had a brilliant 2020.

MANY PEOPLE HAVE had had a 2020 they will quickly want to forget, but not so for Dara O’Shea.

Over the past few months, the young Dubliner has established himself in the West Brom team, signed a new three-and-a-half-year contract with the club, won promotion from the Championship, and enjoyed debuts at both Premier League and international level.

His first Ireland cap came against Finland last month, and his second saw him enter the fray early on Thursday night, replacing the injured John Egan for a memorable outing against England at Wembley.

“It’s been amazing,” he says. “It’s been a dream for me. And after getting caps already, I just want to continue.

“Obviously, in football, opportunities don’t come by too often, so when they arise, I need to be ready.

“I’ve had to work hard for the opportunities I’ve been given. They’ve all been different. Stepping into the Premier League, representing Ireland against some of the best players is totally different to the Championship. 

“I suppose each step I’ve taken to well so far. And I know that if I just do what I’m good at, I can succeed at each level.”

Asked whether there has been one moment in particular when he has had to pinch himself, O’Shea replies: “It would have to be my debut against Finland for Ireland. It was amazing. It was something I’ve always dreamt of since I was a kid. Going to games when I was younger with my dad in Lansdowne Road, buzzing the whole day in school knowing I was going to watch Ireland later on. To have done that now and to be one of those players that plays for my country, that’s amazing.

To be given the backing by the gaffer to put me in in such a big game at Wembley is amazing. I’d never played there before, so I was really looking forward to the game. It didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to go, but I thought we took a lot of positives from the game and it was a step in the right direction.

“It’s obviously been a lot easier for me having seen the lads from the U21 set-up step up before me and make their way into the senior team, knowing that they’re here. As well, the senior players have been great with all the young lads. They’ve taught us along the way and gave us little pointers and stuff.”

Having made his debut, O’Shea is now determined to help Ireland end a winless run that has lasted for the entirety of Stephen Kenny’s time in charge so far.

“We know how much it means to him and how much it means to the group as well to do well having played previously under him at U21 level, I know what’s required from him. I know what a good manager he is. How he plays will really benefit this country in the time going forward.

“I think everyone wants to do well for the gaffer. Everyone wants to do well for the country, which is a big thing. I feel like the results are going to become more positive. It’s just a work in progress at the moment.”

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