The Republic of Ireland saw off Bulgaria in a friendly tonight, winning 3-1 against Bulgaria at the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland drew with Switzerland on Thursday in their EURO 2020 qualifier, meaning Mick McCarthy was able to rotate his side.

Preston midfielder Alan Browne was handed a first start for his country, and boy did he take his chance to impress.

Browne scored the opening goal of the game, breaking the deadlock in a dour encounter. Ronan Curtis had a shot saved, and Browne was able to score after the rebound was played across goal.

Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Bulgaria levelled through an Ivelin Popov penalty, but Kevin Long and James Collins scored to hand Ireland victory.

Browne scoring in his first start for Ireland will have been a proud moment, but also a boost for Preston. The 24-year-old hasn’t really got going this season, partly because of Daniel Johnson’s form. He’s even been playing at right back lately, so seeing him thrive in midfield was a welcome reminder of his quality.

After the game, Mick McCarthy spoke to RTE, and called Browne ‘excellent’. McCarthy was impressed with both Browne and Josh Cullen in midfield, and the young duo now have a chance to really kick on with Ireland.

Browne also received a message from ex-Preston star Greg Cunningham, now with Blackburn Rovers. The left back – who wasn’t in the squad – took to Twitter to admit he loved seeing Browne score, and he’ll be hoping they’re back playing together soon, just with Ireland rather than North End.

Browne will look to use this goal as a springboard for his Championship campaign, starting with Saturday’s game against Brentford. It’s still hard to see him getting into the midfield right now barring an injury, but Alex Neil will love the strength and depth he has at his disposal now.

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