Kevin Long and James Collins were both among the goalscorers as Ireland battled their way to a 3-1 victory over Bulgaria and both have paid tribute to debutant Jack Byrne who had a hand in both of their goals.

Alan Browne also got off the mark for Ireland as his strike was cancelled out by Ivelin Popov's 66th-minute penalty, but Long re-established the lead with a neat header from Byrne's cross before Collins came off the bench to seal the victory.

Collins goal was the pick of the bunch as he finished off the best move of the evening, sliding in to drive home from Enda Steven’s cross after Byrne sparked off the move.

Speaking to RTÉ Sport after the game, the Luton Town man admitted that it was a dream debut.

"It is an absolutely amazing feeling, to make my debut for my country and top it off with a goal and a win, I don’t think it could have gone any better," Collins said.

"I am 28 now and had to work my way up. I've managed to force my way into the squad. The gaffer has shown great faith in me and I’m delighted I could pay him back with a goal tonight.

"The lads have great quality on the pitch, I just tried to do I’ve everything I could. I’m delighted to have managed to do that."

Collins went on to pay tribute to Shamrock Rovers midfielder Byrne, who also impressed on his debut and had a hand in Ireland’s second and third goals.

"Jack Byrne was fantastic, he has got unbelievable quality when he came on and he put it on a plate for me," he said.

"Even though it was a friendly, we said during the week that we wanted to win tonight. I don’t think there is any such thing as a friendly, we were the better team on the night and deserved to win."

Long was also full of praise for Byrne, who delivered the cross for the defender to head home.

"Jack Byrne was outstanding," he said. "He’s a great player and technically very good. You could see that when he came on and some of the passes he made including the delivery for my goal.

"It is a brilliant feeling, to play for your country is a magnificent feeling and to top it all off with a goal is brilliant.

"I think in the first half that we kept the ball well but it just wasn’t quick enough. Second half, we upped the tempo and played a lot more forward balls. I think we dictated the game."