JOHN O’SHEA has urged the Republic of Ireland to build the momentum after launching their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a last-gasp victory in Georgia.
Martin O’Neill’s men looked to be heading for a frustrating draw in Tbilisi on Sunday evening after being pegged back by the Georgians, only for winger Aiden McGeady to snatch the points with a dramatic late winner.
They now head into next month’s double header - on paper, at least, their easiest and most difficult matches, at home to Gibraltar and away to reigning world champions Germany - brimming with confidence and determined to keep the ball rolling.
Sunderland’s O’Shea, who won his 97th cap at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, said: “Look, it’s momentum, it’s just a key word. Martin and the staff have had to wait 10 months for their first competitive game and to get a win is huge.
“Now we can see the way the other results go and build from there. But you are coming away from home in the first game, three points - it’s massive, it really is.
“It was perfect, very, very perfect. It was a huge three points for us. People might have been thinking that 1-1 wouldn’t have been too bad, but believe me, we wanted to win this game beforehand.
“Going back to previous campaigns - you look at Armenia in particular - when you come away, a long-distance travel, tough enough opposition.
“But ultimately, we knew we could win the game and we did win it. We left it a little bit late, but what a special goal to win it for us.”
O’Shea was one of a procession of players to heap praise on McGeady after the final whistle, understandably so in the circumstances.
However, it was not just the fact that he scored the decisive goal which earned him the plaudits, but that he did so to cap arguably the best performance yet of his 70-game senior international career.
McGeady saved the best for last and as the clock ticked into the 90th minute, he took a pass, span and curled a delicious winner past substitute keeper Roin Kvashvadze.
Asked if he had ever seen McGeady produce a display of such quality, O’Shea said: “To be fair, I have. It’s consistency now he will need to find and maintain that, and more game-time at Everton too will help contribute to that.
“But look, I have played with Aiden in the Irish team for a long, long time and in training up against him too. I know the quality he has got, so the more times we can get him on the ball in the final third - less so in our half, where he gives it away for fun!
“He is a top-drawer player. There are not many players in the world have that skill and finish to win the game for you.”