Morgan Treacy/INPHO Sean Maguire (8) celebrates Robbie Brady's late goal with his team-mates.
take the positives

Wait goes on for 'frustrated' Maguire's first goal but Ireland striker pleased with 10 points from 12

The Preston star was disappointed not to start against Gibraltar.

ALTHOUGH THEY WON 2-0 last night and sit top of Group D with 10 points from 12, Ireland’s performance against Gibraltar at the Aviva Stadium will be remembered as a disappointing one.

Robbie Brady’s late header added the gloss to an uninspiring win for the Boys in Green on home soil, the earlier offering a 29th-minute own goal from Joseph Chipolina. 

While no shortage of negativity followed the result at Lansdowne Road, Mick McCarthy remained largely upbeat. 

Likewise, his players preferred to focus on the positive first half of their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign rather than on last night’s unconvincing victory.

“If you offered us 10 points from 12 at the start of the campaign we probably would have taken it,” Preston star Sean Maguire said afterwards.

“It was good to get through this game with no injury issues and a clean sheet. It’s a 2-0 win at the end of the day. It’s another three points. All that matters in this campaign is that we keep picking up points. That’s exactly what we did tonight.”

“It’s been brilliant,” he added of the campaign so far. “We’ve been away for three weeks now and it’s been fantastic.

“We had a great training camp out in Portugal for a week and then we were back in Dublin, before going out to Denmark. It’s a really tight-knit group. You can see it there on and off the pitch.

“Hopefully we have something to look forward to in September. We have Switzerland at home and then obviously the friendly [against Bulgaria]. We’ll be going into the Switzerland game full of confidence.” 

Championship striker Maguire was held in reserve last night, but came off the bench in the 66th minute to earn his sixth cap for the national side.

His first competitive start actually came against Gibraltar in the reverse fixture, but he’s lost out on a starting berth since then after a below-par showing.

Anthony Hernandez with Sean Maguire Ryan Byrne / INPHO Maguire started - but struggled - against Gibraltar the last day. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“Obviously you’re disappointed not starting,” the former Cork City player said of last night’s exclusion from the XI.

“Didsy [David McGoldrick] has done very well in the last couple of games and Scottie [Hogan] did well when he came on the last night, so I can’t be too disappointed.

But it was good to get another cap. I was a bit frustrated that I couldn’t get my first goal. I’ll just have to keep working hard and hopefully I’ll get it.

“I was hoping just to get a sniff of a chance but it wasn’t meant to be. Five minutes after I came on they went to five at the back, which tightened things up. The only real joy was coming from crosses out on the wing. We couldn’t really play through the middle.

“But obviously I’m happy to get another cap.”

The lack of goals the team has scored through their run so far doesn’t concern Maguire either, he insists. 

We’re a bit frustrated that we couldn’t get three or four [goals], but to come away with three points is fantastic,” he emphasised.

“You see Robbie [Brady] popping up with a goal and [Shane] Duffy is a man mountain scoring against Denmark. He has scored some crucial goals at times. It’s good to have goals coming from all different areas.

“I wouldn’t say there’s a lack of goals throughout the group. It’s just about finding those areas to score. I think we can gain confidence from the last few games.”

- with reporting from Paul Dollery at the Aviva Stadium

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