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Darren Randolph avoids plane distraction to help Republic of Ireland to victory

Photo: PA

Darren Randolph endured a new and unusual experience as the Republic of Ireland scrapped their way to a Euro 2020 qualifier victory in Gibraltar.

The Middlesbrough goalkeeper not only had to cope with a plastic pitch and a strong swirling wind, but at one point had to try to maintain concentration as an aeroplane took off from the runway just yards behind his goal.

Asked afterwards how many times he had experienced that before, he said with a smile: "Not many. I can't remember any aeroplanes so close.

"I didn't look round. I could see it in the background, I didn't need to look. The noise alone was enough."

Credit: PA

The game was four minutes old when the EasyJet plane took to the skies, and another 45 had elapsed before Ireland finally took the lead when Jeff Hendrick swept home from David McGoldrick's inviting cross.

But before the goal, Randolph had to produce a fine reaction save to deny Gibraltar skipper Roy Chipolina.

He said: "It was just reactions, the cross coming in and turning and then just sticking out a hand. Luckily enough, I managed to get it around the post.

"That's one of the key factors or components that you need when you're probably not going to be in the game too much. It's important to stay switched on for moments like the header in the second half."

Credit: PA

Ireland will head into Tuesday night's clash with Georgia knowing they will need to be significantly better if they are to emerge victorious, but Randolph left Gibraltar insisting that it was a case of job done.

He said: "We came out to get the win and that's what we did. People can say what they want, but it easy to say from the couch or looking on.

"We wanted to come here and get the win, which we did. It won't matter come the end of the group when we qualify."

Manager Mick McCarthy admitted after the game that he had not enjoyed it one bit, and that sentiment was shared by defender Shane Duffy.

Asked if he too had hated it, Duffy said: "Every minute of it, yes. It was difficult. I'm not making excuses because obviously they had to play the conditions as well, but it was one of the worst I've played in, to be honest.

"It probably didn't look like that on the telly, but job done. Obviously we're a little bit disappointed that we didn't play a little bit better and score a few more goals, but (we got) three points."