An encouraging bright spot amid a time of turmoil for Irish football has emerged in Wroclaw.
Matters on the pitch (with a crushing defeat to Wales) and off it (headed by the Roy Keane debacle) have seen Ireland at their lowest ebb for years.
Another on-pitch issue that has festered in the wake of Robbie Keane’s international retirement is the lack of goalscoring outlets.
Kevin Doyle has also departed the scene, while Shane Long has struggled for a while now.
Among the numerous opportunities recently handed out to national rookies is Aiden O’Brien, who received his first ever Ireland cap against Poland on Tuesday night as part of the starting eleven.
Though he and his teammates found it difficult to test Wojciech Szczęsny in the Poland goal in the first half, the early period of the second half saw much better attacking play.
Cyrus Christie made a fantastic run into the Polish box, winning a corner. From there, Ireland kept possession and stayed in the box. Earning his 11th cap tonight, Callum O’Dowda’s fantastic touch beat the closest Poland defender, and the resulting cross was near-perfect.
Millwall man O’Brien headed it in, and the emotion of scoring on his debut for his country was clear to see.
— FAIreland ⚽️?? (@FAIreland) September 11, 2018
The 24-year-old has certainly done his case for inclusion in next months’ Nations League games against Denmark and Wales the world of good.