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02nd Jun 2018

Graham Burke breaks 40-year record with first Ireland goal

Matthew Gault


A long time coming.

It was a night of beginnings and endings inside the Aviva Stadium. John O’Shea bid farewell to Ireland after a 17-year international career, bowing out in his 188th appearance for his country during the 2-1 friendly win over the United States.

But, while O’Shea’s story has ended, for Darragh Lenihan, the man who replaced the former Manchester United man in the 34th minute, it is very much the other end of the spectrum. Lenihan became the first Meath native to make a senior Ireland appearance and the Blackburn Rovers man will hope it’s the first of many.

There was also a senior debut for Enda Stevens at the age of 27 while Alan Judge, earning his third cap in a career decimated by injury, thumped home his first goal for Ireland to clinch a comeback victory late on.

Then there’s Graham Burke. The Shamrock Rovers forward made his first start for Ireland, having come on for his debut as a substitute in Monday’s defeat to France.

He made his mark, too, scoring the equaliser to rescue Ireland from another defeat.

It may have been a meaningless match but Burke’s goal holds a special significance. In scoring, Burke became the first League of Ireland player to find the back of the net for the Boys in Green since 1978. 40 years – O’Shea hadn’t even been born yet.

It was a wonderful moment for the 24-year-old but unfortunately, he was robbed of the opportunity of building on it, with Martin O’Neill opting to take him off immediately after the goal.

Although he would have loved to have stayed on until the end, it’s a night the Dubliner won’t soon forget. It seemed fitting, too, that a fellow League of Ireland product, Daryl Horgan, replaced him.

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