Ireland defeated New Zealand by 3-1 at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday night thanks to goals from Derrick Williams, Sean Maguire and Callum Robinson.
The Boys in Green began well but the visitors took the lead when Callum McCowatt met a ball from the left, however just before half-time, McCarthy’s side found the response needed as Derrick Williams rose highest to brilliantly head home Robbie Brady’s corner.
In the second half Ireland began to take control with Sean Maguire’s superb first international goal giving the home side the lead before Callum Robinson followed his former Preston teammate on the scoresheet with a wonderful header to seal the victory.
Here are five definitive conclusions as Ireland topple New Zealand at the Aviva.
1) A Strong Performance, Despite The Host Of Changes
A much changed XI from Mick McCarthy with a view to Monday’s all important clash with Denmark but despite the reshuffling, Ireland showed promise throughout.
The front four of Parrott, Brady, Maguire and occasionally Byrne all linked up very well going forward with the Preston man especially putting in an excellent performance.
There were times when New Zealand looked threatening and the goal was largely preventable with Lee O’Connor finding himself just out of position, but the Celtic full-back soon redeemed himself with a brilliant cross for Robinson’s goal.
Plenty of players found themselves getting some much needed game-time and none of the younger players looked out of place at the Aviva.
A job well done.
2) This Was Sean Maguire’s Best Performance In An Irish Jersey
Since his arrival into the Irish setup, Sean Maguire has struggled for both fitness and form, failing so often to translate his displays from club level to international level.
Tonight though was undoubtedly the Preston man’s best performance for the Boys in Green off the left of what proved to be a very exciting front three.
Maguire’s pace caused New Zealand problems throughout and he linked up well with the likes of Byrne and Parrott, but it will be his first international goal that he’ll remember for years to come.
The Kilkenny native was fed the ball by Parrott and after beating one defender he lashed it past Stefan Marinovic in the New Zealand goal.
The relief from Maguire was palpable and he continued to look lively in a game that he will hope can finally be the launchpad for his Irish career.
3) No Goal, But Troy Parrott Acquitted Himself Well On His International Debut
It wasn’t the dream debut in terms of goals for the 17-year-old, but Parrott can be very pleased with his display in leading the Irish line.
Parrott’s movement throughout the game was strong and his link up with Byrne and Maguire certainly showed signs of promise while the Tottenham striker’s endeavour created the chance for Maguire to find the net.
He had one brilliant chance when Maguire looked to return the favour although it was well saved, but despite this, Parrott’s ability to hold the ball up and all round play against a couple of burly New Zealand centre-halves was admirable.
Tonight will hopefully the first of many caps for one of Ireland’s brightest talents.
4) This Would’ve Been The Perfect Game For Ryan Manning
This is no knock on Derrick Williams, who played very well in the left-back role for Ireland and took his goal brilliantly in the first half.
Williams though, was replaced by Callum O’Dowda in the second-half who appeared to slot into the unusual role of left-back – which you’ll remember was occupied by Conor Hourihane in Ireland’s last friendly against Bulgaria.
What must QPR defender Ryan Manning have been thinking when he saw that?
There was clamour from many for the 23-year-old to be called up by McCarthy and although he made the provisional squad he didn’t make the final one despite the Irish boss mentioning that it could be the perfect game to see him in action.
He would’ve been right, and it was disappointing not to have seen one of Ireland’s most in-form players at club level given the opportunity to impress.
5) Regardless Of McCarthy’s Comments, Some Players Played Themselves Into Danish Contention
It was slightly disappointing in the week when McCarthy explained that he’s unlikely to use any of the players who featured against New Zealand in Monday’s game with Denmark.
Those comments may come back to haunt the Irish boss given how well so many of the fringe players and even the debutants played albeit against a largely poor New Zealand side.
Captaining the side, Robbie Brady looked very sharp on the right and helped Lee O’Connor no end, while Alan Browne’s performance in the middle was arguably his best for his country so far.
Even the substitutes who came on looked strong with Callum Robinson, who has been in and out of the Irish side under McCarthy, looking as though he was playing with a point to prove and finding the net brilliantly.
It’s likely that the Irish boss has his team for Monday already in mind and he’s unlikely to stray from what he knows but based on tonight’s display some players will have given him a Danish dilemma.