Donall Farmer/INPHO Given and the Ireland players applauding fans as they leave the pitch.
He's a keeper

'Goalkeepers are a very tight-knit group' - Forde showed Given support despite being dropped

Aston Villa stopper Given was delighted to be back playing competitive matches for Ireland after a three-year absence.

MARTIN O’NEILL LEFT it until 90 minutes before kick-off to inform Shay Given that he would be making his first competitive start for Ireland since the summer of 2012.

After coming out of international retirement last September, veteran Given was named ahead of recent number one David Forde for tonight’s Euro 2016 qualifier with Poland — which ended in a 1-1 after Shane Long’s injury-time equaliser.

In his post-match press conference, O’Neill explained the reasoning behind the decision.

“Shay coming in with the extra experience I felt would make a difference,” said the Ireland boss. “He has been excellent for Aston Villa.

“I must say that David Forde has made precious few errors in my time as manager and was unlucky not to start.”

38-year-old Given was honoured to be back between the sticks earning his 128th cap and revealed that his fellow goalkeeper showed his support despite losing out on the starting berth.

“The goalkeepers are a very tight-knit group and he was supportive before and after the game,” the Donegal native said. “Had Fordey played I would have been the same for him.

“I’ve been there myself and Fordey has been very supportive of me. I said earlier in the week that whoever plays we’re all in it together.

I was delighted to play tonight. It is great to be back in Dublin for a qualifying campaign and in front of a huge crowd with a fantastic atmosphere.

“To be honest I didn’t have very much to do but it is up to me to get back in the Villa team. There are games coming up so hopefully I can show Martin who good I am over the coming weeks.”

While he had a relatively quiet night, Given was picking the ball out of the goal on 26 minutes after poor defensive play from Robbie Brady and Marc Wilson allowed Slawomir Peszko enough room to squeeze the ball past him.

“It was a goal we could have avoided as it was our own doing in the corner,” he admits . “We could have cleared it a couple of times but to be fair to the guy he probably couldn’t have it hit any better. It has flown off his foot and gone past me in a blur.”

‘You could tell there was a goal coming and thankfully I was the man to get it’ – Long

3 talking points from tonight’s Ireland-Poland clash

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