CORK'S Conor Hourihane and John Egan, along with subs Alan Browne and Kevin Long, making their debuts, featured for the Irish soccer team in a 3-1 loss to Mexico in the early hours of Friday morning.
Midfielder Hourihane and centre-back Egan started in an experimental Irish selection, while former Cork City defender Long, who plays with Burnley, and Preston's Alan Browne were introduced in the second half.
Bandon's Hourihane moved to Aston Villa last January and Bishopstown's Egan also plies his trade in the Championship, with Brentford. Long will be hoping to kick on with Burnley in the Premier League next season while Browne is part of a strong Irish contingent at Preston North End, and the ex-Ringmahon and Cork City ace has been one of their most consistent performers.
Douglas keeper Colin Doyle was among the unused subs at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey in front of a crowd of 42,017.
James McClean captained the side against the impressive Mexicans on his 50th senior appearance, while rookie Stephen Gleeson scored the consolation.
Ireland face Uruguay this Sunday in another friendly before the crunch World Cup qualifier against Austria at the Aviva on June 11.
First-half goals from Jesus Corona and Raul Jimenez and a third after the break from Carlos Vela secured a comprehensive 3-1 win for Juan Carlos Osorio's Confederations Cup-bound side against a second-best Ireland side missing their big names.
If nothing else, O'Neill's fringe players were given an insight into the levels they need to reach if they are to force their way into contention for competitive fixtures, with few of them suggesting they have roles to play in the World Cup qualifier against Austria on June 11.
Brighton defender Shane Duffy got a first taste of action since he suffered a fractured metatarsal on March 4 with O'Neill desperate for him to get minutes under his belt ahead of that game, while strikers Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick were handed a chance to stake their respective claims.
But it was goalkeeper Darren Randolph, who lost his place at West Ham towards the end of the Premier League season, who was given ample opportunity to regain match sharpness with the Mexicans cutting loose throughout.
O'Neill was as good as his word when suggesting he would start with a three-man defence. It allowed wing-backs Cyrus Christie and James McClean - captaining the side on his 50th senior appearance - to get forward but also exposed Richard Keogh and John Egan repeatedly as they and Duffy found themselves trying desperately to stem the tide.
Corona curled a third-minute shot wide of the far post and then steered another wastefully wide from Vela's pull-back eight minutes later.
The goal actually came from a 16th-minute Republic corner when Christie's cross was cleared and midfielder Jorge Hernandez broke before feeding the ball into Corona's path, allowing him to slip past Horgan and Keogh and smash an unstoppable drive into Randolph's top corner.
O'Neill's men were being overrun in midfield and they were undone once again with 25 minutes on the clock when Hernandez floated the ball over the top to former Arsenal striker Vela, who was barged to the ground by McClean.
Jimenez converted the resulting penalty with a casual efficiency to give his side a commanding lead which they might have extended five minutes before the break when full-back Jesus Gallardo ran on to Vela's cheeky backheeled return pass, only to shoot across goal.
Duffy had a 44th-minute strike ruled out for offside after Conor Hourihane's earlier effort had been deflected out for a corner, but the half-time whistle came as a merciful release for the Republic players.
O'Neill resisted the temptation to change either personnel or system at the break but his hopes of a fightback were dashed within nine minutes of the restart after Callum O'Dowda could only deflect Jimenez's pass into the path of substitute Oribe Peralta.
His shot was well saved by Randolph - but the rebound fell to Peralta, who squared unselfishly for Vela to tap home.
Randolph denied Jonathan dos Santos and substitute Javier Aquino either side of Mexico keeper Rodolfo Cota's first real intervention when he plucked Murphy's header from underneath his crossbar on the hour.
Central defender Kevin Long was handed a senior debut when O'Neill made a 64th-minute triple substitution but it was Gleeson who made the most telling impact from the bench when he steered home from close range after defender Oswaldo Alanis stabbed McClean's cross straight to him.
McGoldrick wasted the chance to reduce the deficit further in stoppage time when he missed the target from McClean's driven near-post cross, but that would have given the scoreline a decidedly false complexion.