Euro 2012

Stephen Kelly: we'll learn lessons from tough test

Fulham man led Irish side against impressive Uruguay outfit last night.

HE’LL TAKE PLENTY of lessons form his night in the armband and Stephen Kelly insists last night’s young Ireland side will reap the benefits of facing down World Cup sensations Uruguay.

The Boys in Green came off the worse in a five-goal shoot-out, but the Fulham full back was pleased with his night’s work.

“I think overall it was good test to play against a team like that and I think at times we played some really good football. I think it was unfortunate the first goal, Keith gone to head it and it’s hit one of their players and then we got back in the game and then to give away the two goals the way we did was a little bit sloppy,” he said.

“We got caught in possession on the break and our full-backs got caught out of position with the slide ball and two good finishes from them. It was heart-wrenching going in down after starting so well, but at half-time we’ll go for it on the second half and we did.

“We kept the two full-backs tighter and we made it a bit more difficult for them to play it in the channels behind us and we got at them and we were unlucky not to get the equaliser. Overall I thought it was good test a good performance and a very proud day for myself,” he added.

An unused sub against Macedonia, Kelly led out the side yesterday evening. And the Liffeysider was brimming with pride at the honour.

“Being from Dublin and growing up watching Ireland and playing for your country, for me is the epitome of everything, the highest accolade you can achieve in football, and then to be captain it has just been a spectacular day for me.

“I just can’t wait to look back… and it is such a huge honour and I am so privaliged to be allowed do it.”

The Fulham man faced down a talented front three of Diego Forlan, Abel Hernandez and the mercurial Edinson Cavani. He relished the opportunity to test himself against such a trio, he insists.

“I enjoyed it. It is nice to thrown in at the deep end sometimes and it was a test and you always want to see how you do against people like this. I think it went well, overall he was of all the strikers he was the quietest and it was their wingers causing the problems coming in.

“I really enjoyed the challenge and I was up to it,” he said. “Every time you play in a friendly you want to give the manager a bit of a headache in terms of selection and I think a few of the lads have done that.

“Hopefully I have done that myself. I have only played centre-half maybe for 20 minutes but now that he has seen me there I think he would be happy enough to put me there in the future,” he added.