John O'Shea says 'no sadness only joy' after Republic of Ireland farewell

John O'Shea embraces Martin O'Neill after his substitution at the Aviva Stadium
John O'Shea said he planned with manager Martin O'Neill to come off in the first half

John O'Shea insisted there was "no sadness" about his Republic of Ireland farewell as he earned his 118th and last cap in the 2-1 win over the USA.

The Sunderland veteran said he had planned his 33rd-minute substitution as Graham Burke's equaliser and Alan Judge's late goal secured the win.

"It's just joy because it has been amazing to pull on that green jersey 118 times," said O'Shea, 37.

"To have my kids here. My family, My cousins. Half of Waterford was here."

O'Shea was last out on to the Aviva Stadium pitch before the start as he was accompanied by his children Alfie and Ruby amid rapturous applause.

John O'Shea with his daughter Ruby as he prepared to win his 118th and final Republic of Ireland cap
John O'Shea's final Republic cap was a family occasion

O'Shea says Republic finale a 'fantastic moment'

To some surprise, he only played for the opening 33 minutes but the former Manchester United star revealed afterwards that was always his intention.

Bobby Wood's goal on the stroke of half-time put the USA ahead but Shamrock Rovers striker Burke got the final touch to a Darragh Lenihan shot to level on 57 minutes before Brentford's Judge lashed in the winner in injury-time after James McClean's dart into the penalty area.

"It was a fantastic moment for me," said O'Shea of his first-half departure.

"I planned it a while ago with the manager to come off that bit earlier because the season ended that bit earlier for me."

O'Shea joked that he was disappointed not to pick up the man of the match award for his efforts as West Ham youngster Declan Rice earned the honour after an assured display in central midfield for the Irish.

"I thought I was a shoo-in," laughed O'Shea, who captained the Irish in Saturday's contest.

Republic future 'bright' insists O'Shea

Even though the Republic missed out on qualification for the World Cup finals, O'Shea insists that the future remains bright for the Irish.

"You saw Alan Judge tonight coming back from a big injury. Burkey (Graham Burke) and his quality. Enda Stevens and Darragh Lenihan coming on. Derrick Williams the other night in Paris had a great debut.

"We know we have the quality in terms of Seamus (Coleman), big (Shane) Duffy, James McClean, Johnny Walters, Jeff Hendrick and with Robbie Brady still to come back as well. There's lots to look forward to."

Republic manager O'Neill was content with the win after the concession of a "sloppy goal" before half-time.

"That put us on the back foot but we had a good second-half performance," said the county Derryman.

O'Neill described Rice's central midfield display as "absolutely outstanding".

"He was our best player out there. There's not much more I can say about him. He was magnificent."

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