McGrath and Ferguson feature in Maltese adventure
In a place a long way from the plains of Meath duo Jamie McGrath and Evan Ferguson added to their international experience.
They were part of the Republic of Ireland team that eked out a 1-0 victory over Malta in the Ta'Qali National Stadium in Valetta last night.
McGrath made his return to the starting eleven to earn his seventh senior cap while Ferguson was sent into the fray late in the game just was was the case last Thursday night when he made his debut.
Darragh Lenihan also started last night's low wattage affair on the bench with the game played before a near empty stadium.
There was an estimated 700 Irish fans there and they didn't have much to cheer although Callum O'Dowda did hit a post.
The Irish goal was a pre-Christmas gift from the Maltese with midfielder Matthew Guillaumier passing the ball to Callum Robinson on 55 minutes in front of his own box and he had the easiest of tasks to score.
McGrath did much good work down the flanks floating in a number of crosses and he was voted the RTE 'Man of the Match' although overall this was a very muted, medicore display by the Irish.
This was a big game for McGrath as he returned following a year in the international wilderness.
Out of the international reckoning ( a situation that must have hurt him) this performance represented a return to the big stage for McGrath and he was clearly eager to impress.
Ferguson did have late half-chance but his shot was blocked. This was the first time in the history of Irish soccer that two Meath players played in the same fixture for the Republic of Ireland senior side.
Before the game Irish manager Stephen Kenny was annoyed that the team didn't get a chance to train on the pitch.
The Irish dominated the game for long spells but were unable to make the breakthrough until they were gifted the goal.
McGrath will now concentrate on the task of making sure he is fit and in form when Stephen Kenny looks at his options for March’s opening Euro 2024 qualifier against France.
“I have to get my club form up in terms of goals and assists and hopefully that will get me in in March if I stay injury-free," the Athboy player added.