Mixed emotions for Kevin Long after Ireland competitive debut

Mixed emotions for Kevin Long after Ireland competitive debut
Ireland's Kevin Long with Guido Burgstaller of Austria. Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

Kevin Long was left with mixed emotions after his competitive debut for the Republic of Ireland ended in dramatic fashion.

The Burnley defender only made his international bow as a substitute in the friendly defeat by Mexico in New Jersey on June 1, and his first start in last weekend's 3-1 win over Uruguay.

However, manager Martin O'Neill named him in his starting line-up for an eventful 1-1 World Cup qualifier draw with Austria on Sunday evening and he emerged not quite sure what to make of a result which might have been better, but could have been significantly worse.

Long said: "The way the first half went, it was probably a point gained, but then again if you look at the second half - the momentum we created in the second half, we had a few chances to score goals - you could say it's points dropped.

"But we'll take it and we'll move on."

For much of the game at the Aviva Stadium, Ireland looked like they would get nothing and, in truth, they could hardly have complained after tuning in an insipid first-half display at the end of which they trailed to Martin Hinteregger's accomplished finish.

But O'Neill's side are nothing if not dogged and Jonathan Walters' 85th-minute equaliser sparked a late frenzy in which Shane Duffy had a potential winner chalked off for a foul and Walters saw concerted penalty appeals turned down.

Long said: "To be fair, we never really started the game at all and we were pretty sloppy in the first half.

"The manager had a few words and in the second half, we came out and I thought we were a much better team and probably deserved to get three points."

Long headed off on his summer break having been rewarded for his decision to miss out on being best man for his brother to link up with the Republic squad.

It has been a good few weeks for the 26-year-old, who started the last three games of the Premier League season for the Clarets to put himself in contention for international recognition after finally shaking off his persistent injury problems.

He said: "It's an honour to represent my country and it has been a brilliant few weeks for me. To make my debut out in New York and then start my first game last week and then play a competitive fixture this week, it's what dreams are made of.

"A competitive fixture like this, to play for your country, they're the games you want to be involved in. I'll go and enjoy now a few weeks off, I'll go back to Burnley in July and hopefully I can kick on again and start playing more games."

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