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Saturday 21 October 2017

Aiden is top notch - O'Shea

Veteran star salutes form of McGeady and manager's calls after win in Tbilisi

Republic of Ireland's Aidan McGeady, left, and John O'Shea during squad training
Republic of Ireland's Aidan McGeady, left, and John O'Shea during squad training

IT'S TEN years since a skinny teenager called Aiden McGeady made his senior Ireland debut in a dull friendly against Jamaica.

But John O'Shea believes that his Ireland team-mate can now match his undoubted ability to that youthful potential.

McGeady admits that his scoring rate for Ireland has been poor over the years - just three goals from 69 caps before Sunday's win in Tbilisi, just one goal more than the tally of defenders O'Shea and Stephen Ward.

The former Celtic and Spartak Moscow man has been a frustrating figure in green on many occasions, and often in the five qualifying campaigns in which he has competed he has been disappointing.

Scoring the winner in an away qualifier does not guarantee success (just ask Stephen Ireland) but if one lesson can be taken from Sunday's win in Tbilisi, it's McGeady.

"He's a top drawer player. Not many players in the world can have that skill and finish to win the game for you," said O'Shea of McGeady's superb winning goal against the Georgians.

"He will need to find the consistency now and maintain that and hopefully more game time at Everton too will help contribute to that as well.

"I've played with Aiden in the Ireland team for a long, long time and in training up against him, too, I know the quality he's got."

As the players reported back to their clubs for training yesterday they were undoubtedly drained by the exercise in Tbilisi but buoyed by the fact that the side managed to start off the campaign with a win, in a group which will take many twists and turns, as evidenced by Germany's rather laboured win over Scotland.

"It's a huge positive for us. As I said before the game, I felt we could win here and thankfully we did," says O'Shea.

"I am disappointed because we had control of the game when they scored, it's a good strike from the lad but we probably should have given him as much space. "It's one of them, it did take a slight deflection. We've had a good look at the videos and that and it's gone in like an absolute rocket. That was frustrating, that was the disappointing thing. We probably took a few too many chances in the first half, passing wise in the first half we were much sharper.

"But little Quinner in midfield was fantastic at getting on the ball and turning and making us play. Those are massive positives for us and obviously Aiden getting the goals the way he did," added O'Shea.

McGeady is basking in the glow of praise for his two-goal haul but O'Shea also pointed out the contribution of the central midfielders, especially Quinn, who was making his competitive debut alongside James McCarthy and Glenn Whelan.

"That's why the manager picked the team the way he did - wanting us to keep possession of the ball," says O'Shea, now just two games away from the 100-cap mark.

"You're away from home and that's going to be a huge asset and Stephen and James and Glenn played a massive role in that. We probably didn't get enough ball up to Robbie and get as much support to him but Jonny Walters worked extremely well and was a fantastic out ball for us that was heavily involved in the first goal, so there are a lot of positives.

"You had Glenn sitting more so and letting Stephen and James join up to support Robbie. You had Jonny Walters tucking in a little bit to help Seamus to go forward. I don't want to give too much away but I think the manager knows what he's doing, you know?"

O'Shea now hopes that the momentum can build up from that win and carry on into the big tests a head, away to Germany and Scotland.

"Martin and the staff have had to wait eight or nine months for their first competitive game and to get a win is huge," says the Sunderland man.

"Now we can see the way the other results go and build from there. Coming away from home in the first game, three points, it's massive. It really is," he added.

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