After 18 Months From Hell, Robbie Brady Is Ready To Star For Ireland Again

By Gary Connaughton

Gary Connaughton reporting from the Aviva Stadium

18 months is a long time in football. Careers can built or lost over such a time frame, with the cutthroat nature of the professional game meaning that you can never look too far ahead when it comes to plotting how things are going to go.

Robbie Brady knows that better than most.

He has suffered with injuries at various times over the course of his career, although the last year-and-a-half have proven to be particularly challenging.

Since he featured in the game against Qatar in March of 2021, he would leave Burnley, only to go a number of months without finding a club. After eventually landing at Bournemouth, he would make only a handful of appearances as the team won promotion from the Championship.

It wasn't enough time on the to rediscover his best form or force his way back into Stephen Kenny's plans.

Now at Preston and finding his feet once again, he has brought that uptick in form into a green jersey.

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The game against Armenia did not go the way the team would have planned, but it would finish in a dream scenario for Brady. Making his first international start in 18 months, he would be the one to slot away the late penalty that would give Ireland the victory.

Speaking to the media after the game, he admitted he was thrilled to be back firing and contributing for Ireland once again.

I was delighted to be back wearing the green jersey. It was a long 18 months off the pitch for me, it was a bit of a tough time but I got myself in a decent enough place and was delighted to get on the pitch and get the win in the end tonight, although we had a mad 10 minutes...

I felt alright in the moment and luckily enough it went in. We got the win in the end and it would have been a shame to come out of that with a draw or a defeat after dominating most of the game.

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Robbie Brady's Ireland career has not played out in the way many would have anticipated. It was expected that he would be the key man in the team moving forward after his exploits at Euro 2016, although he has yet to live up to such a billing.

In saying that, he rarely lets the side down when he does take to the pitch.

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Considering the way in which has body has broken down at times, it would have been completely understandable had he passed up the opportunity to feature for Ireland in this window and instead concentrated on his club form. After all, the last thing he would want is to jeopardise the progress he has made by getting injured once again.

Despite this, Brady admits turning down the call-up never even crossed his mind.

To be fair, when I did hurt myself with Ireland the last time I was just desperate to play for Ireland.

There is never a doubt in your mind. Even if it's in your head for two seconds, as soon as you get a sniff of coming back and playing for Ireland, that's what you want to do more than anything else.

That will never change with me. If I'm needed, I'll be here.

Ireland looked in control for most of the game, holding a 2-0 lead with 20 minutes or so to go in the game. However, a few moments of madness would allow the visitors back into it.

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In the end, it took that late penalty from Brady to win it.

What went wrong during that period?

Just getting too greedy. We're 2-0 up and committing too many bodies forward.

When they get the ball we switch off for a split second, they cut us open in the middle of the pitch, the fella shoots into the bottom corner and then rinse and repeat again two minutes later.

It was a made game and we can't be like that going forward so we'll reassess that and get it right.

He will now return to club duties at Preston where he will hope that he can improve even further in the weeks and months ahead.

With two friendlies against Norway and Malta before a break for those not involved in the World Cup, this season's schedule is likely to suit a player who has struggled to maintain his fitness in the past.

He is now looking to push on.

It’s been a difficult time for me on and off the pitch, so all that just came rushing back. I’m delighted to get back into a green jersey and I think it probably got the better of me for a couple of seconds. I’m feeling alright, I’m not even too pleased with my overall performance.

I done alright, at times we moved the ball well but I still think I could have been better and I don’t think it was my best game of the season so far.

But I definitely have something to offer I feel, and for some of my performances I’ll have to keep them up if I want to stay involved and I know that.

Here's hoping this is just the first of many big moments to come for Robbie Brady in the years ahead.

SEE ALSO: Ireland Player Ratings As Kenny's Men Leave It Late Against Armenia

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