thumbnail Hello,

The Canaries midfielder came on as a second half substitute and helped the Boys in Green to a credible 2-0 victory over Poland at the Aviva Stadium

February international friendlies rarely provide much to write home about but Wes Hoolahan's goal, which sealed a 2-0 win for the Republic of Ireland against Poland at the Aviva Stadium, generated excitement and appreciation.

Before the strike, most of the Irish supporters, in a minority among the 43,112 attendance, had been bemused somewhat by the half-time introduction of Derby County’s Paul Green ahead of play-maker Hoolahan.

But that changed when Jeff Hendrick, making his debut as a 71st-minute sub, spotted a run from deep from the Norwich player and picked him out with the perfect pass. Hoolahan, winning his third cap, controlled the ball with his chest and finished past Szczesny, with the aid of a slight deflection.

"It feels amazing," Hoolahan said afterwards. "It's great to score a goal and come off the bench. It was a great ball by Jeff over the top. I came onto it nicely and just put it in the corner."

The Boys in Green led through Ciaran Clark's goal just before half-time. In general the team don’t tend to score many spectacular goals but Conor Sammon, who won his first cap, also hailed the ex-Shelbourne man's strike.

He said: "It was brilliant from Jeff, to take it on his chest, edge of the box with so many bodies closing him down. And to pick out the run of Wes on the left wing was brilliant and then the finish added to it as well."

Despite getting less than half an hour to bed in, Hoolahan was hopeful that his goal-scoring cameo puts him in the frame for next month’s qualifiers against Sweden and Austria.

"Coming off the bench was tough but I thought generally I did okay. [Trapattoni] just said play the normal role I do at Norwich, in behind Conor, and just support and get back in to midfield when they have the ball. Obviously, I'll keep doing what I’m doing for my club and see how it goes," said the 30-year-old.

The match also provided a welcome return for Bristol City’s Greg Cunningham, back in the side after a three-year absence, which included a spell out with a broken leg. He played the full game and was delighted to come back into the fold.

The 22-year-old said: "I’m delighted to have played 90 minutes, I gave everything I've got and we'll see how things pan out, hopefully I can make the squad for the qualifiers.

"It was a bad injury to get, it didn't really come at the right time but I'm back, I'm playing week-in week-out with Bristol City, which I need, to play regular football.

"As a defender to keep a clean sheet against a quality side, I was happy enough," he added.

Related