SHANE DUFFY fulfilled a lifelong ambition in the early hours of Saturday morning when making his Republic of Ireland debut against Costa Rica.
The 22 year-old Galliagh lad, who played 39 games during a season long loan at Yeovil in the Championship last season, claimed it was ‘an honour’ to represent his country as he played his part in a 1-1 draw in Philadelphia.
That game was the first in Martin O’Neill’s side’s two game tour of the United States.
And with the Ireland squad limbering up for a clash with World Cup finalists, Portugal at the Metlife Stadium, New Jersey in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Duffy is hoping he did enough to retain his place in the heart of the Irish defence.
“Everything has happened so quickly for me, it’s still a blur for me really,” said the Everton defender. “Playing for Ireland, my country, there’s no prouder feeling than to be here.
“All around world football, (O’Neill) is well known for what he’s done,” he added. “So for him to pick me as a manager, he thinks I’m all right - that’s just an honour for me to be in the squad.
“He (Martin O’Neill) said I did some good things and I did some bad things which I need to improve on,” added Duffy.
“Obviously when you start playing football, you want to play for your country, so I was delighted when it actually came.
“I thought I did all right in the game, some good things, some bad things but it’s the first step and hopefully I can do better stuff.”
Duffy was denied the chance to make his first senior international four years ago after a life-threatening training ground collision in Malahide.
He had been promised his chance in an end-of-season friendly against Paraguay in 2010 by then manager Giovanni Trapattoni, but days before the game, he suffered a horrific training ground accident which left him with a lacerated liver and needing emergency surgery.
Therefore his eventual progression to the first team was a huge achievement for the Everton defender, but he always felt he would get the opportunity to pull on the green jersey again.
“I always thought if I was playing, I’d get a chance. This is my first season where I’ve played football. It’s been just games here and there for a few years.
“I thought if I got a full season I had a chance. I have self-belief, but to be here is great. It’s been a long four years.
“I was just focussing on club football to see if I could get back to where I was, and hopefully this season I have shown that.
“Playing the other night was sort of a reward for four years ago, what happened, so I was just delighted.”
As regular centre-half, John O’Shea, Seamus Coleman and Damien Delaney didn’t travel for the two game tour of the US and Marc Wilson doubtful with an injury, Duffy could very well line up against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal on Wednesday.
“As soon as you have played one game, you want to play more. I don’t know how I did, but I just went out there and did the best I could do, and on Tuesday I will be ready if I’m picked.”