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Parrott getting closer to moment of glory for Ireland as Brady reminds McCarthy of his set-piece prowess

Tonight’s friendly against New Zealand was an important opportunity for the two Dubliners.

Parrott on the ball for Ireland against New Zealand.
Parrott on the ball for Ireland against New Zealand.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

THE MOMENT CAME and went just as the clocked ticked onto 59 minutes.

The ball broke around 40 yards from the New Zealand goal and Jack Byrne – as he so often managed to do on the night of his first Republic of Ireland start – was quickest to pick up the pieces.

He played a simple pass into the path of Seani Maguire, allowing the striker advance without hesitation and keep the attacking moving. Troy Parrott made his run off the shoulder of centre back Bill Tuiloma and Maguire duly slipped in the 17-year-old.

The weight of the though ball was perfect, so too the timing of the run. The crowd collectively inhaled in anticipation of a little slice of history – an “I was there moment”, perhaps – but the net never rippled.

The moment never came.

Instead, New Zealand goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic read the danger superbly and was out as quick as a flash to smother Parrott’s low shot inside the penalty box.

The young Tottenham Hotspur forward – whose sole appearance for his club so far this season came in a League Cup defeat to Colchester United – expressed his frustration at not scoring but there was no need to be disheartened.

His time has come in an Ireland jersey and his moment of glory will no doubt be just around the corner, provided he continues to make the kind of strides since moving to north London.

In the end here, though, there was no debut goal.

Parrott’s name didn’t end up in lights and there was no single burst of joy to cherish. He did, however, make a difference and manage to affect the game. His sharp pass to Maguire led to the Preston forward drilling a stunning winning goal into the top corner.

sean-maguire-celebrates-scoring-their-second-goal-with-alan-browne-and-troy-parrott Sean Maguire celebrates his goal. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Hardly an incisive killer assist but not bad for starters.

Parrott was replaced by Callum Robinson in the 63rd minute, a double change which also saw Byrne make way for Alan Judge. The pair trotted off to applause from the sparse Aviva Stadium crowd but could be happy with their evening’s work.

This was a big night for the Dubliners on show – Parrott, Byrne and captain-for-the-night Robbie Brady all with differing reasons to make an impression.

The trio of northsiders – an Auld Triangle, if you will – are at varying stages of their respective careers but shared a common sense of purpose here.

Brady would no doubt have got an ear-bashing from Mick McCarthy for not tracking the run of Liberato Cacace as he burrowed down the left side unmarked before sliding the cross for Callum MCowatt to open the scoring on the half-hour mark.

Brady, showing the sort of mental fortitude that should be expected after his year of injury hell, wasn’t about to let his head drop and his pin-point corner was met by Derrick Williams’ powering header to bring Ireland level in the 45th minute.

It was no bad thing for Brady to remind Mick McCarthy of his prowess with set pieces because if there is one aspect to his game which will give him any chance of forcing his way back into the starting XI for the visit of Denmark on Monday it is his ability to make a difference from dead balls.

The emergence of another left-footer, Conor Hourihane, means that is no longer Brady’s unique selling point, although the fact the Burnley man started on the right side of the three in a 4-2-3-1 formation would suggest it is Robinson whose place could be under threat after some below par performances.

The Sheffield United forward did manage a timely confidence booster with his first international goal to put the gloss on this 3-1 victory, although by that point you wonder if McCarthy was just counting down the minutes until he could turn attention to the Danes.

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callum-robinson-celebrates-scoring-their-third-goal Callum Robinson also got on the scoresheet. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

That is the really serious business and there is no doubt that Byrne once again showed enough composure and ability in possession to warrant a place in the match-day squad for that decisive Euro 2020 qualifier.

The Shamrock Rovers playmaker was the odd man out for the trip to Switzerland last month, watching the defeat from the stands, but here he looked well at home with international football.

Granted it was against a side which hasn’t played for 18 months but, just like the FAI Cup final here less than two weeks ago, Byrne sought to get on the ball and make things happen.

He was crisp with his passing, sharp in his thinking and decisive with his execution. When it needed to be a one touch pass to keep the game ticking over, he did, and when it needed to be delayed to bring others into play the 23-year-old timed it right.

Byrne brings an energy and confidence to the teams he plays in and that should not be discounted. There is no fear in his game, a trait that has not always been there for those wearing green when the ball is at their feet.

All three of these Dubs will face greater tests, whether McCarthy chooses that to be on Monday remains to be seen.

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About the author:

David Sneyd  / Reports from the Aviva Stadium

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