Long pleased while Keane eager to keep caps coming

‘If you asked me 10 years ago would I get this many caps, I’d say you were crazy’

Shane Long is fouled  by Georgia’s goalkeeper Giori Loria. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Shane Long is fouled by Georgia’s goalkeeper Giori Loria. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho


It has, he said, been a week he’ll never forget, a goal at Wembley last Wednesday and then captaining his country for the first time in yesterday’s 4-0 win over Georgia in Dublin. Now, though, Shane Long was reminded, he has more important things to attend to.

“Ah, I wouldn’t say more important, but don’t tell her that,” he said of his impending marriage, a long-planned fixture that rules him out of the game against Spain in New York, having already been suspended for next week’s World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands. That, then, is his footballing work done for now.

“Getting the captain’s armband was special for me, it’s been a good week, although it would have been nice to grab a goal as well, that would have made it perfect. I could have had four to be honest, I did everything right up to the finish, but I’m happy with my performance, it was a special night for me and I’ll take a lot of positives out of it.”

“This win will give the lads plenty of confidence going in to next week in what is a big game for us. It’s disappointing, of course, to be suspended, I would have liked to play against the Faroes at home, give me a chance to maybe grab a few goals, but we have a squad of 27 players and every one of them is up to it.”

“I’m sorry to miss the Spanish game too, there’ll be a lot of the Irish in New York at the game, it’ll be a big atmosphere, hopefully we can do ourselves proud. I’m getting married that week, we’ve been planning it for a year and half, I didn’t know anything about the Spain game back then. But I’ll watch it on telly.”

Long paid tribute to Robbie Keane, the man from whom he took over, temporarily, as captain for the game, marveling at his the international ‘stats’ now beside his name. “Well, 125 caps is an unbelievable achievement in itself, but 56 goals? It’s a ridiculous amount. Every chance he gets he scores, so it’s no surprise really that he’s scored that many. Hopefully he can add to it next week. He deserves it, he’s a great leader, he’ll have the armband back next week.”

Keane, though, was more focused on doffing his cap to Wes Hoolahan for his performance last night, than his own cap-winning and goal-scoring exploits. “We all know what Wes can do, he likes to get on the ball, play little passes around the corner which suits me perfectly because I’m always in the hole waiting for them,” he said. “We linked up very, very well, and when Stephen Quinn came on it was the same, a similar little player.”

The chances of Hoolahan starting against the Faroes? “Well, that’s up to the manager of course, but he certainly has a great case.”

Keane, too, welcomed Richard Dunne’s return after a miserable year for the defender who was injured at Euro 2012 and then missed the entire season for Aston Villa.

“It was just nice to be back, to be in that situation, the stadium, the crowd, everything, hopefully it’s behind me now, the end of what’s been a bad season,” said the player himself, “the reception I got when I came on was brilliant, it meant a lot to me, really special.

Dunne, though, won’t know until today whether or not he will stay on with the squad for the Faroes and Spanish games, “I’ll talk to the doctor and I’ll see what he says.”

Hoolahan will certainly be around, but waits to see if he did enough last night to persuade the manager that he’s the man to fill the vacancy left by the suspended James McCarthy.

“James and Shane are two big players who are going to be missed, you saw again in this game how good they are, but they are good enough players in the squad to step in and take their places. It was nice to get my first start, I enjoyed it, you just try to do well when you get the chance and I’ll try again in training this week. If I’m called upon I’ll do a good job.”