Norwich City’s Wes Hoolahan delighted with first international goal for the Republic of Ireland
PUBLISHED: 13:17 07 February 2013 | UPDATED: 13:17 07 February 2013
Norwich City forward Wes Hoolahan scored his first international goal for the Republic of Ireland last night – a moment he described as one of the proudest of his career.
Introduced as a 62nd minute substitute for Shane Long with Ireland ahead thanks to Ciaran Clark’s first-half opener, Hoolahan sealed a 2-0 friendly win over Poland at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium by chesting down Jeff Hendrick’s 76th minute pass before drilling inside the far post.
“It was amazing – to score for your country is one of the proudest things I’ve done so it’s a great occasion,” said Hoolahan. “I’ve waited a while to get my chance but all I can do is my best when I’m called upon and prove what I can do.”
Hoolahan, 30, was winning his third Irish cap – a tally he has had to wait five years to achieve after somehow failing to convince current Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni and his predecessors. However, this time Hoolahan will hope he has persuaded the Italian veteran he can be of use come the Republic’s forthcoming World Cup qualifiers in Sweden and at home to Austria next month.
“In the past, I have been asked many questions about Hoolahan and I said we knew him very well,” said Trapattoni. “He is not old, but we wanted to look at the new players, young players like James McCarthy.
“I also like to play with two strikers because if you play with only one striker, the opposition may think you fear them.
“Hoolahan, we have seen many times and I have said many times to Marco, it’s a pity. But maybe we have overlooked him because in every game we have seen him play for his club, he has played very well in this position.
“In the future, we will consider this. International football is not the same as club football, it’s not easy, but he is a good option.”
With Clark and Hoolahan’ scoring their first international goals, the night provided a morale-boosting victory. Aston Villa defender Clark thumped home in the 35th-minute to give Ireland the lead against the run of play, before Hoolahan – warmly applauded when introduced – made his mark.
The scoreline flattered Trapattoni’s men, who were grateful for an heroic show from goalkeeper David Forde to keep them in it.
The game had been billed as an opportunity for the Italian to take a look at newer players – John O’Shea and Glenn Whelan were the only members of the starting XI to have started a game at last summer’s finals.
Norwich winger Anthony Pilkington’s involvement was ended before it could begin after he picked up a hamstring strain at the weekend.