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Dublin: 0°C Saturday 23 January 2021
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McGoldrick overcomes 'tough time with Ireland' to deliver man-of-the-match display

The Sheffield United striker earned plenty of plaudits for his contribution to the win over Georgia.

THE IRISH SUPPORTERS’ assessment of David McGoldrick’s performance against Georgia was reflected in the ovation he received when leaving the field.

McGoldrick was roundly applauded by those in the 40,317 attendance, as he was replaced by Matt Doherty after putting in a shift that earned him the man-of-the-match award in the 1-0 win at the Aviva Stadium.

inpho_01525392 David McGoldrick applauds the Ireland fans as he leaves the field. Source: INPHO/Bryan Keane

The game marked an eighth senior international cap for a player who will turn 32 later this year. Nevertheless, the striker is well placed to continue adding to that tally after returning from a 21-month absence from the international fold.

McGoldrick has yet to score for Ireland, but he can claim assists for the two goals which ensured that Mick McCarthy’s side took maximum points from their opening two Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Having set up Jeff Hendrick to score the only goal of Saturday’s game in Gibraltar, he earned the free-kick that Conor Hourihane converted to see off the Georgians. 

“He was brilliant,” Ireland defender Shane Duffy said of McGoldrick. “I told him he’s my new favourite player. He was unbelievable tonight. I’m delighted for him because he’s had a tough time with Ireland. Now he has come in with a fresh start.

“As you can see from the reception he got, the fans have taken to him. It’s good for us. We’re all crying out for strikers. The only thing he missed tonight was a goal.”

Nottingham-born McGoldrick, who qualifies via his Irish grandmother, was given his international debut by Martin O’Neill against USA in November 2014. He made six appearances under O’Neill — all but one of which came in friendlies — but hadn’t been called upon since a 3-1 defeat to Mexico in June 2017.

He has flourished at club level since joining Sheffield United last summer following a spell at Ipswich Town, where he played under Mick McCarthy. With the Blades currently on track for promotion to the Premier League, McGoldrick has been a key contributor.

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Conor Hourihane celebrates scoring a goal with Robbie Brady, Shane Duffy and Richard Keogh Shane Duffy leads the celebrations after Conor Hourihane's goal. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

His 12 Championship goals have helped Chris Wilder’s side to occupy second place, four points behind leaders Norwich City with eight games left to play. Should they remain there, the club will be back in the English top flight next season for the first time in 12 years.

When asked about McGoldrick’s display after last night’s game, Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph said: “He played very well. That’s him as a player. He’s been unlucky with injuries in the past, so now hopefully he can stay fit and we’ll get to see more of those performances.”

Reflecting on the result, Shane Duffy feels it leaves Ireland in a good place ahead of the summer double header. Mick McCarthy will take his team to Denmark on 7 June before welcoming Gibraltar to Dublin three days later.

“In the first half I thought we were very good and we could have had a couple more goals,” said the Brighton defender. “Overall we’re delighted. It’s a new campaign and a great start for us. He [McCarthy] wanted the Irish fighting spirit back and I think that’s what we showed.

“It’s a good start and now we can build on it. All of us are looking forward to coming back again. It’s a fresh start for everyone. The players have got a new lift here and you could see that in some of the performances tonight, which were superb. Exciting times, hopefully.” 

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Paul Dollery

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