KEVIN LONG admitted Tuesday night was a great one for Cork as four of its natives featured in the Republic of Ireland’s 3-1 friendly victory against Bulgaria at the Aviva Stadium.
The Burnley player took his place in the heart of the Irish defence alongside John Egan — who captained the side — while Conor Hourihane featured in an unfamiliar left-back role and Alan Browne played higher up the pitch in the centre of midfield.
Browne scored his first international goal from a couple of yards out at the beginning of the second half and Long followed suit in the closing stages to complete a memorable evening for the quartet.
“It is great for Cork,” Long told The Echo shortly after full time.
“There was four of us in the team with Conor Hourihane as well at left-back, Brownie getting his goal as well and John being captain and me scoring as well it was fantastic.
“It was a brilliant feeling. To represent your country in itself is a great feeling but to top it off with a goal and win was brilliant.
“I thought we played well throughout. First half we did well but we just didn’t move the ball quickly enough, we didn’t go forward enough and in the second half we stepped up the tempo a little bit, we made a few more forward passes and we controlled the game.”
The 29-year-old was given the chance to stake a claim in Mick McCarthy’s starting 11 for future Euro 2020 qualifiers and he is hopeful he will get more chances to impress.
“All I can do is when I’m given the chance is to go in and do my best and that’s what I did,” he added.
“Obviously Keogh and Duffy are the main two centre backs at the moment, they haven’t done anything wrong in the games so far so all I can do is keep coming in and putting pressure on them and hopefully, that will be enough.
“The two lads have been brilliant and I don’t think I have done enough in this performance to take one of their positions in the team.
“But if I get more game time with Burnley and going forward I can get more chances in the team here hopefully I can get back into the team.”
Asked what his short term aims are now he’s heading back to Burnley, he said “Just to get more game time.
“It is kind of a similar situation to here, the two lads that have been playing have been doing well for Burnley over a long period of time.
“I want to be playing obviously so I just need to be getting games and hopefully I can do that,” he added.