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Football | Talking points from Ireland's win over Bulgaria

The Republic of Ireland beat Turkey 3-1 at the Aviva Stadium last night.

Alan Browne, Kevin Long and James Collins found the net for the Boys in Green on an experimental night for Ireland.

A penalty from Ivelin Popov had drawn Bulgaria level after Browne's opener, but two goals in the last 10 minutes secured victory for the hosts.

As promised, Mick McCarthy rang the changes for the international friendly in Dublin.

The Ireland boss made 10 changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Switzerland last week, with Conor Hourihane - who was moved to left back - the sole survivor from the crucial draw.

Here are the main talking points as Ireland plundered three goals in a match for the first time since 2017.

Five new faces

Five players made their senior international debut for the Boys in Green.

Bournemouth goalkeeper Mark Travers was given the nod between the posts, and was replaced by fellow young shot stopper Kieran O'Hara as the game wore on.

It was a huge occasion for the two talented young 'keepers, and one they'll never forget.

Josh Cullen was also given his first taste of senior action, starting the game in the centre of midfield.

Luton Town striker James Collins came off the bench to win his first cap, as did Shamrock Rovers playmaker Jack Byrne.

It was refreshing to see McCarthy experiment with his squad, and to see five new players in action for the first time.

First goals for trio

Alan Browne, Kevin Long and James Collins all scored their first international goals.

Browne, who scored 12 league goals from midfield last season for Preston, opened the scoring in the second half, applying a finish to Scott Hogan's pass across the box.

The Cork native has the ability to chip in with plenty of goals and assists from midfield, and it was good to see the 24-year-old open his international account in his fifth cap.

Long produced an assured performance at the heart of the Irish defence, and scored a fine header from Byrne's excellent corner in the 83rd minute to make it 2-1 after Ivelin Popov’s penalty had drawn Bulgaria level.

The Burnley defender has had to be patient for Ireland, with Richard Keogh and Shane Duffy the preferred partnership in defence, but this was a strong showing from the 29-year-old.

It was a dream debut for Collins, who has scored three Championship goals in six appearances for newly promoted Luton this season.

Collins converted fellow substitute Enda Steven's cross with a powerful finish with three minutes remaining to put the result beyond doubt.

The 28-year-old impressed in his brief cameo - he also won the corner which led to Long's goal - and could provide a good option off the bench in the remaining Euro qualifiers.

Cullen and Byrne shine on debuts

Josh Cullen produced a man of the match performance in his first senior appearance.

The former Ireland U21 captain looked assured in possession at the base of the Irish midfield, and also made some important defensive contributions.

Cullen made one superb recovery block to deny Daniel Mladenov in the first half, and he was quietly effective throughout.

He enjoyed a fantastic season with Charlton on loan from West Ham last year, setting up the winning goal in the League One play-off final, and last night showcased why Lee Bowyer made bringing the 23-year-old back to the club for another loan a major priority this summer.

Glenn Whelan is 35 now, and Cullen is one of those in contention to serve as the veteran's long-term replacement at the heart of the Irish midfield.

Judging by his first appearance, he could become a key player for the Boys in Green in time.

Jack Byrne also seized his opportunity to impress following his introduction in the second half.

The Shamrock Rovers star added creativity and flair to the midfield, and had a hand in Ireland's second and third goals.

He whipped in a delightful corner for Long's header, and combined brilliantly with Stevens on the left flank in the build up to Collins' goal.

The 23-year-old Dubliner fizzed another shot wide, and constantly looked to pass forward when in possession.

Byrne is the type of creative midfielder that Ireland have been crying out for, and it will be interesting to see if McCarthy uses him off the bench in any of Ireland's remaining qualifiers.

Mixed night for Egan

It was a mixed night for John Egan.

The Sheffield United centre back was handed the Irish armband for the first time in his career, which he would describe as "the proudest moment" of his career after the game.

He was largely solid throughout the game, but did give away a penalty in the 66th minute.

Cyrus Christie surrendered possession far too easily in a dangerous area, which eventually led to Egan committing a clumsy foul on Bozhidar Kraev inside the area.

Bulgaria drew level from the resulting penalty, but overall, Egan looked composed in possession and defended well.

His time will come.

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