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October 23 2020 4.08am

McCarthy's joy at point

June 1 2002

Republic of Ireland

Republic of Ireland

Mick McCarthy was delighted with the performance of his Ireland players in their 1-1 draw with Cameroon, which ended a tough week for the boss.

The bust-up with Keane had overshadowed Ireland's preparations, so McCarthy was relieved the first game got under way.

McCarthy said: "I've had the hardest week possible but coming into the game today was a blessed relief.

"It's nice to be walking away without being beaten. The game was a great advert for football.

"In the first half we gave up the ball too easily and their two centre forwards were causing us problems.

"I thought we played far, far better in the second half. I give my hearty congratulations and a pat on the back to all the players."

This was the proverbial game of two halfs. Cameroon looked more assured in the first period and after going close a couple of times took the lead in the 39th minute through Patrick Mboma.

The Irish came out to the second half rejuvenated and in the 52nd minute, Matt Holland struck a sweet 25-yard effort to make it 1-1.

Robbie Keane could have got a second for Ireland, but his long-range shot hit the post. Clinton Morrison did not get any action today and was an unused substitute.

Holland said: "I scored a couple like that in the qualifying games and it was nice to do it here.

"Hopefully it will stand us in good stead. It was a crucial that we didn't get beat today and let's see what we can do from here."

Ireland play Germany on Wednesday and Saudi Arabia, who Germany thrashed 8-0 today, on June 11.

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