SCOUTING REPORT | Byrne shines brightest under the Tallaght lights
The Ireland manager had just left his seat in the stand when Byrne scored the late, late matchwinner for Rovers in their 3-2 victory against the champions in a pulsating SSE Airtricity League Premier Division game.
By then, Byrne had already reminded the man who handed him his international debut what he can do with a timely display a month out from the EURO 2020 Play-Off against Slovakia in Bratislava.
Boss McCarthy told FAI.ie: “I did see Jack’s goal – on my phone in the car! And yes, it was a great goal and maybe as good as the earlier Jordan Flores strike for Dundalk that has been seen by so many across the globe by now and rightly so.
“What did impress me on the night was Jack’s ability to see a pass and make the pass. Plenty of players can see a pass but Jack is able to play the ball as well and that was a key factor in the game.
“He certainly gave me plenty to think about with that performance and I loved everything about the game. The atmosphere was electric, the record crowd had a real buzz about them and it was a great advert for the League.”
With McCarthy set to name his squad for Slovakia at a Dublin press conference on March 13th, last weekend was a good time to score a goal or two as far as several Irish players were concerned.
In the Premier League, Michael Obafemi started alongside Shane Long and Will Smallbone for Southampton and scored in their 3-1 defeat at West Ham on Saturday and Matt Doherty was on target for Wolves as they won 3-2 at Spurs on Sunday.
The Championship action saw Scott Hogan keep up his incredible scoring run with both the Birmingham goals in their 2-2 draw at QPR. Hogan now has six goals in seven appearances for the Blues to his name.
James Collins was on target from the penalty spot as Luton drew 1-1 with Stoke and Jason Knight scored again for Derby, this time in their 3-1 victory at Sheffield Wednesday.
“Our players are scoring at just the right time as we get closer to Slovakia,” added the Republic boss. “Michael will be delighted to have scored after getting the nod to start upfront with Shane and Matt is getting plenty of chances at Wolves and taking them.
“Scott is on fire at Birmingham and really looks like he is proving a point to himself never mind to anyone else after moving there on loan in the January window. We’ve watched Jason and James a lot in the Championship this season and it is good to see them on the scoresheet as well.
“I don’t care who gets the goals in Slovakia so long as we get goals and there are plenty of Irish players enjoying the goalscoring habit now which I’m sure everyone who wants that play-off win is delighted with, me included.”
It wasn’t all good news for the Republic chief or his team’s fans at the weekend however as captain Seamus Coleman picked up a quad muscle injury in Everton’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Goodison Park.
“Our thoughts are with Seamus now,” said the manager as the defender awaits full analysis of a scan on the injury. “Our doctor Alan Byrne has been in touch with the medical team at Everton and we will wait on their prognosis.
“It’s not good news as of now but, like James McClean, Seamus is a fighter and he will do everything he can do to be on the plane to Slovakia. We will keep our fingers crossed for him.”
Cyrus Christie has played at right-back for Mick McCarthy and Martin O’Neill in the past and he was introduced to the action early on Saturday as the Ireland head coach watched Fulham beat Preston 2-0 at Craven Cottage.
“I went there to have a look at Sean Maguire and Alan Browne primarily but Cyrus was the happier of the three of them by the final whistle,” said McCarthy. “He was a ninth-minute substitute for Fulham and he came on and played really well for the rest of the game in what was a very big win for Fulham.”