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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 18 February, 2019
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First international goals for Graham Burke and Alan Judge hand Ireland victory over the US

In John O’Shea’s final appearance, the Boys in Green ran out 2-1 winners at the Aviva Stadium.

Burke points to the crowd after scoring.
Burke points to the crowd after scoring.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Republic of Ireland 2
USA 1

Ben Blake reports from the Aviva Stadium

GRAHAM BURKE BECAME the first home-based player in 40 years to score in a senior international for Ireland tonight.

Making only his second appearance, the 24-year-old turned the ball home on 57 minutes to break the record of fellow Shamrock Rovers player Ray Treacy from way back in 1978.

Late substitute Alan Judge struck in injury-time to hand the Boys in Green their first win of the calendar year in an improved performance to the one witnessed in Paris on Monday night — admittedly against far weaker opposition.

After uninspiring friendly defeats to Turkey and France in 2018, Martin O’Neill’s men returned to their home ground for the first outing since that humbling World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark.

The FAI had marketed the fixture as ‘a game of appreciation’ for retiring defender John O’Shea, who captained the side on his final appearance at international level.

However, the chance to give the former Manchester United defender a fitting send-off only enticed enough fans to ensure the Aviva Stadium was less than half-full.

Martin O’Neill opted to deploy a 3-5-2 formation with O’Shea, Shane Duffy and Kevin Long across the backline, while Seamus Coleman and James McClean occupied the wing-back positions.

The returning Jeff Hendrick was joined in midfield by 19-year-old Declan Rice — playing at the ground for the first time — and Bristol City’s Callum O’Dowda.

Having made his debut in Paris on Monday, Hoops forward Graham Burke started behind experienced striker Jon Walters.

The Ireland team Ireland's starting line-up prior to kick-off. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

The 24-year-old looked eager to get involved early on, and good link-up play between him and Walters allowed the Burnley forward a shot from 25 yards, which dipped wide.

A welcome sight was Ireland’s ability to keep hold of possession at times, and McClean had an effort from distance on 20 minutes that stung the hands of American keeper Bill Hamid.

The States, who also have a free summer on their hands after missing out on the World Cup, grew into the game as the first half wore on and Tyler Adams was unlucky to see his strike hit team-mate Rubio Rubin and deflect over. Moments later, Bobby Wood came close from outside the box.

John O'Shea is substituted O'Shea leaves the pitch. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

In the 34th minute, O’Shea’s work for the night was done and he bid farewell to the Irish crowd — coming off to a standing ovation. Blackburn Rovers defender Darragh Lenihan was introduced in his place to become the first Meath man to win a senior international cap for Ireland.

The hosts looked threatening and Coleman should have hit the target after Burke and McClean had created an opening. However, the full-back’s shot was rifled at Walters and rolled harmlessly away.

On the stroke of half-time, however, the US went in front slightly against the run of play. A free-kick was launched towards the back post, Matt Maizga rose highest to head towards goal and Hamburg’s Wood got a toe on it.

Bobby Wood celebrates his goal with teammates The US players congratulate goalscorer Bobby Wood. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

But Ireland drew level after the interval as a corner was taken short to O’Dowda, who skipped past a white shirt before curling his cross to the back stick. Long nodded down to substitute Lenihan and his shot was turned home on the line by Burke.

That goal was his final contribution as O’Neill withdrew the Dubliner for Daryl Horgan. The former League of Ireland winger looked lively upon introduction and his direct run created a golden chance for Walters, but he couldn’t hit the target.

Duffy’s wayward header then gifted Tim Weah an opportunity but the 18-year-old son of AC Milan legend George, who opened his international account earlier this week, blazed over.

Debutant Lenihan thought he had scored for the second time after glancing home from a free-kick, but the lineman’s flag went up to deny the ex-Ireland U21 captain.

There was a memorable moment for Sheffield United full-back Enda Stevens before the end as he won his first cap, and Ireland looked most likely to find a winner as the clock ticked down.

With 90 minutes played, Brentford’s Judge, who was only on the field, crashed a shot in off the crossbar after McClean had made the chance. Judge has endured a torrid time with injuries in recent years and the elation in his celebration was clear to see.

IRELAND: Colin Doyle, Shane Duffy (Enda Stevens 78), John O’Shea (c) (Darragh Lenihan 34), Kevin Long, Seamus Coleman, Declan Rice, Jeff Hendrick (Harry Arter 82), Callum O’Dowda (Alan Judge 88), James McClean, Graham Burke (Daryl Horgan 58), Jon Walters.

USA: Bill Hamid, DeAndre Yedlin (Shaq Moore 70), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tim Parker 61), Matt Maizga, Jorge Villafana, Wil Trapp (c), Tim Weah, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie (Joe Corona 81), Rubio Rubin (Luca De La Torre 77), Bobby Wood (Josh Sergent 70).

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Ben Blake

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