Mick McCarthy heaped praise on James Collins after the Luton striker’s goal sealed the Republic of Ireland’s 3-1 friendly win over Bulgaria
Collins, 28, was one of five Republic debutants as he was introduced the final half hour in Dublin and his display delighted the Irish boss.
“I love the fact that James gets in the box and scores. I loved his performance,” McCarthy told Sky Sports.
“James came on and bashed the centre-back and he hated it.
“The centre-back rolled over even though James didn’t catch him. He got straight back up after getting him booked.
“James held it up. He ran in the channel. It was a proper centre-forward’s performance.”
Best moment of my career – Collins
Collins described his goal as “by far” the best moment of his career.
“I can’t describe how good that felt. To get my first cap for my country and top it off with a goal. I’m absolutely delighted,” said the Luton forward.
“The gaffer changed a lot tonight but the lads who came in were excellent.
“I wasn’t the only one making my debut and I thought all the lads who made their debut were excellent.”
Shamrock Rovers midfielder Jack Byrne was also earned a first cap along with goalkeepers Mark Travers and Kieran O’Hara plus Charlton midfielder Josh Cullen and McCarthy was also impressed with the League of Ireland player’s display.
“Jack set it up [Collins’ goal] with a great pass.
“He’s so effective when he’s up the pitch. He’s got goals in him and he started threading balls. He was excellent.”
As McCarthy made 10 changes from Thursday’s Euro 2020 qualifier draw with Switzerland, debutant Cullen was named man of the match after a display which included blocking a first-half Bulgaria chance.
“Josh Cullen deserved the man of the match, he was excellent,” added the Republic boss.
“The first half was awful. I know that. It’s a friendly. Does anybody find Republic v Bulgaria a sexy fixture after all the games that had gone (in the last week)?
“We had to get ourselves up for that. It was a different team.
“The second half was very different and I think overall, we deserved to win. They had a lot of possession but didn’t really hurt us.”
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