It was a goal that felt a long time coming for Sean Maguire.

The Preston North End man admitted he didn't know how to react to his terrific 52nd-minute rocket against New Zealand. It was his first senior Republic of Ireland goal on his seventh cap.

The 25-year-old has had no luck with injuries the last couple of years and has slipped down the pecking order because of it.

Tonight was a timely reminder of what he brings to the table.

"It’s healthy competition," he said when reflecting on the battle for places in Mick McCarthy’s team.

"Didzy’s (David MGoldrick) been our main man in this campaign. He’s scored goals, he’s made assists and he’s played that role down to a tee. He’s been brilliant.

"This was a chance for the players who haven’t been playing as much as they want in the campaign. It was important to put in a performance, which we did."

Maguire’s old Preston team-mate Callum Robinson also got on the scoresheet against the All Whites, nodding home Lee O’Connor’s cross for his maiden Ireland goal.

It made the night even sweeter for Maguire, who hinted that the Sheffield United attacker has been frustrated by his failure to fire in a green shirt.

"I was delighted for Robbo scoring. He’s in the same boat as myself. When those caps rack up and you don’t see the goals… it was important for both of us to get a goal each.

"It’s a massive weight off my shoulders. It’s the type of goal I don’t normally score. Normally I score my goals inside the 18-yard box. The chances I got in the first half, nine times out of ten I’d fancy myself to score.

"I was frustrated at half-time. The gaffer, TC (Terry Connor) and Robbie just said, 'keep going, keep getting into those areas’. Thankfully, I scored."

Maguire would liked to have marked the occasion in style but ultimately, as the relief washed over him, the ex-Cork City man drew a blank. No back-flips or fist-bump routines, just "all emotion".

"The moment it left my foot I knew it was in. Normally I have a celebration or two in me. It was just all emotion… I didn’t really know what to do.

"You dream of these moments, scoring for your country. I’m over the moon."