Alex Dunne reports from the Aviva Stadium
The final chapter in John O’Shea’s International career came to a close with a victory as the Republic of Ireland secured a 2-1 win over the USA in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night. A 45th-minute Bobby Wood goal was cancelled out by a Graham Burke tap-in on his first Ireland start with Alan Judge handing down the final verdict with a 90th minute winner.
The Republic of Ireland gave a first start to Shamrock Rovers forward Burke, playing off main striker Jonathan Walters as Martin O'Neill once again plumped for a three-man defence, as he did against Turkey, with Shane Duffy, Kevin Long, and O'Shea all starting.
But the first chance fell to the United States when left-back Jorge Villafana fired a shot from range but did little to trouble Colin Doyle in the Irish goal.
Ireland started out the better side, disrupting any USA attack and winning the ball well out wide, with Burke and O'Dowda doing a great job at closing down all the American midfielders.
The away side struggled to build anything and Ireland found themselves with a glut of chances. O'Shea nearly wrote the dream script when Burke's corner just missed his head. Walters fired a volley just wide and McClean stung the gloves of USA goalkeeper Bill Hamid from range.
Yet the best chance to date fell fortuitously to the Americans in the 24th minute when Duffy's header away was met by the volley of Tyler Adams and Rubio Rublin's inventive backheel lift went skyward of Doyle's goal.
The chance galvanised the Americans. They began to find spaces out wide, Rubin and livewire Timothy Weah clicked into gear as Adams and Weston McKennie grew more confident in midfield.
Rubin had another go on Doyle goal after 33 minutes and Weah produced a stunning moment of calm skill chesting past a flapping Kevin Long in the build-up,
O'Shea's withdrawal after 33 minutes saw the Aviva crowd rise to its feet to applaud off a fine servant to the game. Ireland pressed with Burke hit the wall with a free kick and McClean continuously tested Hamid with deep crosses.
The Midtjylland stopper had looked ropey coming for high balls all game, and one spill nearly led to an Irish goal when Coleman pounced on a break right on the stroke of half time but his shot was bounced off Walters.
From the resulting goal-kick, the USA won a free-kick. McKenzie found the head of Rubin deep in the box who put it on a plate for Wood whose outstretched foot directed the ball past Doyle to give the US the lead.
The second half brought with it fresh impetus although the US midfield trio of McKennie, Adams, and combative captain Will Trapp subdued the best efforts of Burke, O'Dowda, and Jeff Hendrick.
After a series of corners, a deep cross to Hamid's back post was kept alive by Kevin Long after the keeper missed it. The ball fell for Lenihan, whose shot was goalbound but nabbed on the line by Burke. The Shamrock Rovers striker’s goal meant he was the first League of Ireland player to score for 40 years for the national side capping a first start where he rarely looked out of place.
Lenihan could have had put Ireland ahead but for an offside call to deny him a lovely headed finish in the 68th minute.
The USA came out of their shell more after going behind. Their best chance falling to Wood who turned O'Dowda on the edge of the Irish box before firing straight at Doyle despite Weah being in more space on the far right.
The flow was interrupted somewhat by a series of substitutions, a usual occurrence in friendlies. Enda Stevens, at left-back, did create a good chance on the break towards the end that needed clearing by Tim Parker.
But another moment of defensive confusion cost the USA as McClean broke beyond Parker while the whole side, Hamid included, stood and watched.
McClean overhit his dribble but Judge was on hand to hammer home from a few yards out, capping his return to the Ireland set-up after more than a year out with a broken leg.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Colin Doyle; Shane Duffy (Enda Stevens 77), John O'Shea (Darragh Lenihan 33), Kevin Long; Seamus Coleman, Declan Rice, Callum O'Dowda (Alan Judge 88), Jeff Hendrick (Harry Arter 82), James McClean; Graham Burke (Daryl Horgan 59), Jonathan Walters.
Subs Not Used: Conor O'Malley, Shane Supple, John Egan, Matt Doherty, Greg Cunningham, Alan Browne, David Meyler, Alan Judge.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Bill Hamid; DeAndre Yedlin (Shaq Moore 70), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tim Parker 61), Matt Miazga, Jorge Villafana; Weston McKennie (Joe Corona 81), Will Trapp, Tyler Adams; Timothy Weah, Bobby Wood (Josh Sargent 70), Rubio Rubin (Luca de la Torre 77).
Subs Not Used: Zack Steffen, Eric Lichaj, Antonee Robinson, Andrija Novakovich.
Booked: Carter-Vickers (31), Adams (49), Corona (88).
Referee: Andrew Dallas
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Graham Burke (Shamrock Rovers)