McClean: Goal will be with me forever

McClean: Goal will be with me forever

Midfielder James McClean hailed a professional performance from his Republic of Ireland team-mates after contributing a brace in their 7-0 rout of Euro 2016 qualifying minnows Gibraltar.

Robbie Keane scored a hat-trick inside 12 first-half minutes - including the opener after just six minutes - to give the home side a decisive lead in Dublin and take his individual tally in international football to 65.

Wigan player McClean then got in on the act after the break, scoring either side of goalkeeper Jordan Perez's own goal, and Wes Hoolahan completed the rout with a 56th-minute effort to make it two wins out of two for the Irish in Group D.

McClean told Sky Sports: "We did a professional job, we prepared the right way. It was important to get the early goal and settle everyone down.

"The goals meant everything. Playing for my country is the greatest privilege in football and to score goals, my first home goals as well, it's something that will be with me forever. Hopefully I can push on from that and get a few more."

Martin O'Neill's men now take their qualifying campaign to Gelsenkirchen and a meeting with world champions Germany on Tuesday night, and McClean knows the importance of having two wins under their belt ahead of that match.

He said: "We've got six points on the board and from the start that was our objective going into Germany.

"We're under no illusions that's going to be a really tough ask, but hopefully we can go there and get at least a point."

O'Neill feels his players did everything that was asked of them against a Gibraltar side competing in their first ever qualifying tournament.

He said: "It was nice to get the early goal in the game and the goals coming early in the second half as well. I thought we got a little bit sloppy in the last 20 minutes but outside that I'm very, very pleased.

"We talked about it all week, about getting off to a good start, about getting the momentum and impetus very quickly. That was very important for us - we're the home team, it's up to us to press forward and we did that."

O'Neill was, however, reluctant to weigh into the debate about whether Europe's footballing minnows should be allowed to take part in qualifying due to the largely one-sided nature of such matches.

"It's not really a question for this evening," he said, adding that Gibraltar should be given a chance to show what they can do as newcomers to the international stage.

"For Gibraltar, this is only their second game in real competition and in time perhaps people will forget about it."

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