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Big Mac makes early mark

HE SAYS that his "humble" nature would not lead him to assume that he will be in the squad, let alone the team, for the next Ireland game.

But David McGoldrick has come from Ipswich Town to Dublin town and forced his way onto the international stage with a sparkling debut in last night's 4-1 win over the USA.

He didn't score, it was 'only' a friendly, and attacking players like James McCarthy, Andy Reid, Wes Hoolahan and Robbie Keane, all missing in Dublin last night, have to come back into the frame by the time Poland come to town in March.

But just like past players like Tony Galvin and Andy Townsend made their international debuts at the age of 26 and went on to have long careers with Ireland, the outlook for McGoldrick - on last night's evidence at least - is bright, as the Ipswich man played a major role as this Irish side played with precision, instead of the panic that was on view in Glasgow last Friday.

"I am a humble guy, I know that two assists on my debut in a friendly won't get me into the team that plays against Poland next year.

"I know I have a lot to do before then but if I keep working hard and do well for my club, I might get into the squad at least and then take it from there," McGoldrick told The Herald, pleased with his night's work on his debut.

"This has been a long time coming. I have been trying to get here for a while and when I got to 26 I knew I had to really knuckle down and get it sorted, get it done.

"Now that I have my debut I want to keep it going, try to get a call-up to the next squad and see where this can take me."

Struggles at club level, and then some issues with red tape and paperwork over his Irish eligibility, slowed his progress and made sure he was a late starter at the age of 26 - bear in mind that Robbie Keane already had 60 caps on his CV by the time he was that age.

"I never gave up hope, though 26 is late to be starting off as an international, but I saw someone like Rickie Lambert get his first cap at the age of 30. I hoped it could happen for me, I always kept faith, worked hard and I am delighted that it's happened for me," McGoldrick added.

"I knew what I was coming into, I knew about Ireland before I came in here. I have known for a long time about my Irish link so this isn't new to me, and I've had Mick McCarthy, Stephen Hunt, Daryl Murphy, Conor Sammon and Jay Tabb at the club in my ear. It's a big deal to play for your country.

"It is a step up, I know that, as you are playing with - and against - top quality players but I think I did quite well.

"My game is about getting on the ball and getting other players into the game, that's what Martin O'Neill wanted me here for, dropping into the game, making things happen. But I had good players playing in front of me and that helped."

He played an insightful ball in for Anthony Pilkington for the Cardiff City man to score his first international goal, earning a tidy sum for those who's backed Pilkington at 11/1 to score the first goal and also worked well with Robbie Brady.

"I enjoyed that link-up with Robbie, he's a top player who is in the Premier League and he showed it last night," added McGoldrick.

TWO ASSISTS

"I got the ball off him for the first goal and it was nice for me to get two assists. Hopefully it won't be too long before my first goal comes along.

"The Americans were a good side, they had a centre half who plays in the Premier League, they played a good formation and it was hard to play against them at times.

"At half time the manager told us to keep at it and once we got that second goal we were in control, we scored three in the second half.

"It's a long time now for the next game, four months, but if I can stay in the squad I will be delighted, and when I get back to the club Mick will give me a hug and say 'well done', he texted me before the game to wish me well.

"I am confident in my ability so I am pleased with two assists last night, thought I'd be happier with two goals. We have some really good players in our side and that was a great experience last night."

McGoldrick survived the initiation rites and also his time on the field. "It was a big week for me, my first taste of international football but I think I settled in well," he says.

"I have been doing well for my club but this is now the next level and I feel I can step up. I watched players like Robbie Keane in training and I realise there are parts of my game I need to improve on, the way Robbie finishes, the way Shane Long holds the ball up, I have things to work on and I will take that lesson back to the club."

O'Neill has struggled to settle on a way of playing and on a man to play in that free role in front of the midfield, with Hoolahan and Aiden McGeady deployed at times, but McGoldrick is now a real live option, though for him, what counts now is the work he does at club level.

"I wanted to show what I can do and I hope I have made an impression on the manager, but the next international is a long way away."


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