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Szmodics savours Ireland debut years in the making



Sammie Szmodics said his Republic of Ireland debut was years in the making as he savoured an impressive first outing with the Boys in Green.

The Blackburn Rovers man shone in a nil-all draw against Belgium at the Aviva Stadium, linking up effectively with Evan Ferguson and Chiedozie Ogbene throughout.

Szmodics has had to bide his time to get a first taste of international football. Now 28, the Hungary-eligible attacker hovered around a couple of squad’s during Stephen Kenny’s time in charge without getting capped.

Now, he’s eyeing more outings for Ireland, who next face Switzerland in Dublin on Tuesday,

“Yeah it was a massive, proud moment for me and my family,” Szmodics told RTÉ Sport’s Tony O’Donoghue.

“My family were there. It’s been a long time coming, a number of years. To finally put on the green jersey and play at the Aviva Stadium was unbelievable for me.

“I was ready three or four years ago for it. Things have happened. To finally make it, have a debut here against a good Belgium team with my family in the crowd, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

Ireland’s best chance fell to Evan Ferguson, who missed a first-half spot-kick after Arthur Vermeeren was penalised for handball.

It was a disappointing moment for the 19-year-old, but Szmodics has no doubt he’ll shrug it off.

“I’ve missed penalties this season, it’s how you bounce back,” he said.

“Ev is a confident guy, a young lad that scores goals. I thought he was brilliant. That penalty miss will be nothing for him. I’m sure if we get one Tuesday and he’s playing he’ll step up again and he’ll slot it.”

Overall Ireland came away from Saturday’s contest with plenty of positives banked.

O’Shea, along with his backroom team of Brian Kerr, Paddy McCarthy and Glenn Whelan, were armed with a gameplan that worked. Now, they’ll look to build on it as players and supporters wait to see who will be the new permanent head coach, with an announcement expected in April.

“I think on another day we’d have got the win.”

“I think we employed what we wanted to do off the ball very well,” added Szmodics.

“We showed aggression, we took them the other way, and we created chances which we knew we would do if we implemented the tactics John wanted to do. I think on another day we’d have got the win.

“The triggers, when the ball goes to the full-back we have to jump with aggression. There’s no point jumping if we can’t make it there or impact the play. I thought we done that well.

“Everyone pushed up as a team like a domino effect, so Belgium couldn’t get through us, they went around us. I thought it worked well. We worked on it through the week and we implemented it quite well.”

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