Jamie McGrath

Athboy man makes history in heartbreak defeat

Ireland play Azerbaijan on Saturday and Serbia on Tuesday in World Cup qualifiers

Over the coming week Athboy's Jamie McGrath will be looking to add to his collection of Republic of Ireland caps - and there is every likelihood he will do just that.

Last night the St Mirren midfielder created a piece of Irish soccer history when he became the first Meath player to turn out in a competitive senior international fixture for the Republic of Ireland in their 1-2 defeat to Portugal at the Estadio Algarve, Faro-Loule in the World Cup qualifiers.

McGrath is one of a raft of young players introduced to the international team by manager Stephen Kenny since he took charge.

McGrath got eight minutes against Andorra on his senior international debut in June but last night he was given a start in midfield and performed extremely well to earn his second cap.

Ireland play Azerbaijan on Saturday and Serbia on Tuesday in World Cup qualifiers and McGrath is likely to be involved in both games which are at the Aviva.

Ireland went ahead shortly before the break against Portugal with McGrath floating the ball into the box from a corner which was headed to the net by John Egan.

However, it was heartbreak for McGrath and the Irish when Ronaldo scored twice from two headers, the first goal arriving in the 89th minute and the second six minutes into added time, to snatch victory.

McGrath conjured up a very impressive display against Ronaldo & Co delivering a number of high-quality passes and putting in plenty of hard graft in midfield before he was substituted late on.

On raking pass to Aaron Connolly in the second-half was particularly impressive with his workrate also contributing to a fine overall display.

In 2018 Darragh Lenihan became the first Meath player to be capped for the Republic of Ireland at senior international level when he came on in friendly against the USA.

He also played against Northern Ireland in a friendly the following November but he has struggled to get back into the international set-up.