Many key men were left out of the starting line-up, yet the one player who perhaps yielded the most attention was not even present at the Aviva Stadium as Ireland beat Bulgaria 3-1.
Thirty minutes before a ball had even been kicked at the Lansdowne Road arena, Tottenham Hotspur wonderkid Troy Parrott was nonchalantly lifting the ball into the back of the Sweden net to secure a 3-1 victory for the Ireland Under-21s in their respective European qualifying campaign.
The Dublin teenager – still just 17 years old – had already shown a striker's instinct to score the earlier equaliser with a fine, first-touch finish to set up victory for Stephen Kenny’s side.
Three goals in two games for the Ireland prospect, and it was no wonder that the former Belvedere youngster had stolen a late chunk of the limelight from the senior side who laboured at times en route to a victory over the out-of-form Bulgarians.
On a night that was essentially an open-audition for impact players for Ireland’s remaining three qualifiers, it was maybe more than a coincidence that Parrott actually came off the bench to score his brace in the Swedish victory.
"We’ll try to get him watched and if I think he is right, I will take him," said McCarthy when asked about Parrott’s chances of being elevated to the senior squad for next month’s away double-header in Georgia and then Switzerland.
"What I love about Troy Parrott is that when you are left out of the team, that you come on and have an effect, you don’t come on and sulk, so fair play to him, I am delighted for him."
The manager was quick to emphasis the gulf in class between the Under-23s at club level and the Ireland Under-21s when compared to the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, but did admit that he believed that if he is good enough, then he is old enough.
"That has always been the case," said McCarthy, who did stress that he would like to see Parrott break into the first team at Spurs to convince him to select the striker. "He has every chance. I have never ruled anyone out."
Of course, McCarthy was speculating in relation to Parrott having yet to watch back the game, but the manager was happy with several players who helped his senior side to the 3-1 win at Lansdowne Road.
The manager admitted that his side were careless with their creativity and crossing throughout the game but believed that they were clinical with their finishing to secure three goals for the first time since returning to the national team.
However, the international friendly exercise appeared worthwhile as McCarthy admitted that he was pleased with several performances on the pitch.
"There were some really good performances. I thought Josh Cullen was excellent and he deserved the man of the match award. I thought Alan Browne was [excellent]."
And the manager appeared to take a certain pride from James Collins’ impact role, coming on for Scott Hogan in the 60th minute before scoring on his international debut.
"I loved James Collins’ performance when he came on," beamed McCarthy.
"He played like a proper centre forward and knocked the centre-half around and upset him. Won the ball, set it up for his own goal.
"He ran the channels and did make an impact, and I think he has kind of nailed his place tonight."
And there was a special mention for fellow debutant Jack Byrne who also came on for the final 30 minutes of the contest.
"Jack Byrne lit the place up with his forward passing," said McCarthy.
"He assisted with two goals and he has that position to play up behind James [Collins] or in a more forward position.
"I told him, if I see you collecting the ball from the centre-halves, I’m going to kick you up the hole, and he knows that. And I am saying that with a glint in my eye and a bit of a joke.
"But he is so effective when he is up the pitch. He has goals in him and his pass for Enda was just terrific, and he started threading balls…"
There is, however, a sense that should Byrne play a role in the remaining games it will be more likely be against Georgia rather than a strong, physical midfield unit like Switzerland.
'I should take a bit of credit for that, that I'm not taking Troy away from Stephen. Stephen's got the best gig of all.' pic.twitter.com/OZEzCgKqAc— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) September 10, 2019
"Let’s just put it in perspective," said the manager. "Would it be different if he was up against those big Swiss midfield players running off him? Absolutely.
"But it is horses for courses and when we needed to create something, he did it for us, he was excellent."
Looking ahead to the next competitive fixture, as Ireland face old foes Georgia in Tbilisi, the manager explained that his tactics will be similar to those employed against Bulgaria, to go away and press from the start to upset the hosts.
"If we were at home against Georgia, it would be a different ball game, but we will still go and press them.
"Because good football teams like Denmark, Switzerland and Georgia, if you allow them to settle and do what they want to do, it is going to cause us problems, so we try to stop them."