European Qualifier: Stephen Quinn admits relief at Republic of Ireland bow
Last Updated: 09/10/14 8:54pm
Midfielder Stephen Quinn was thrilled to have a weight lifted off his shoulders when he finally made his first competitive start for the Republic of Ireland last month.
And the 28-year-old hopes his story of patience and perseverance can now be an inspiration to others looking to break into Martin O'Neill's squad.
Hull midfielder Quinn had to wait until June last year for his first senior cap, aged 27, and it was a further 15 months before he was handed his first recognised start in the Euro 2016 qualifier against Georgia.
However, Quinn seized the chance and his performance in the 2-1 victory in Tbilisi has done wonders for the confidence of a player who almost quit the game following the death of both his parents in his early twenties.
"It's great getting that first qualifying game under my belt," said the former Sheffield United midfielder.
"I think everyone knows how much that meant to me with my parents passing. It was a proud moment for the family and me. I'd worked so hard to get there and I was 28 when I was getting my first qualifying game, so it was a hard road, it was a long road, but I never doubted myself."
Quinn's story is motivation for any player frustrated at being overlooked at international level, and the Hull man offered words of encouragement for others in that situation.
He said: "You can never give up on it.
"There's plenty of lads that would give an arm and a leg to put the green jersey on, so you just have to dig deep and keep going. The chance will come if you just keep plugging away and working hard on your game."
The win in Georgia, courtesy of two goals from Aiden McGeady, set Ireland up nicely for this month's qualifying double-header. O'Neill's men are at home to UEFA's newest members Gibraltar on Saturday before taking on world champions Germany next Tuesday.
Quinn admits Gibraltar are something of an unknown quantity, although he expects them to park the proverbial bus in Dublin after opening Group D - and their first ever European Championship qualifying campaign - with an unhappy 7-0 drubbing against Poland.
We don't know too much about Gibraltar... We have to be patient and the crowd have to be patient with us as well.
"We don't know too much about Gibraltar," he said, before stressing that Ireland cannot give in to irritation if the goals do not arrive straight away.
"We've watched the first half of the game against Poland and they were quite rigid. They had a lot of bodies behind the ball, so I don't think we should get too frustrated in the first half because they kept Poland down to 1-0 at half-time and it looked like they were quite tough to break down.
"We have to be patient and the crowd have to be patient with us as well."
Quinn also believes McGeady, whose late goal secured last month's win in Georgia, will again be the man to watch as they look to build some momentum ahead of next week's visit to Gelsenkirchen.
He said: "Aiden McGeady can unlock any defence so he's a real key man for us. And Aiden's on fire at the minute, I'm sure he's looking forward to this.
"It would be great to get an early goal but if not we've got to be patient. We have to use the ball and come up with a tactic that can break them down over the course of the 90.
"We've got some fit players and hopefully they'll tire and we can get some goals. We've got to get a good result going into the Germany game."