DERBY County skipper Richard Keogh says he was glad to be back in action over the weekend.
Keogh won his fourth cap for the Republic of Ireland in a 1-1 friendly draw with Costa Rica in the United States.
The central defender, looking to put the disappointment of the Rams’ Championship play-off final defeat to Queen’s Park Rangers behind him, played 90 minutes at PPL Park in Philadelphia.
Club-mate Jeff Hendrick won his sixth international cap, coming on as a 67th-minute substitute in place of former Derby midfielder Paul Green.
Keogh, whose error led to QPR’s late winner at Wembley, was happy with how his first game since then went, against one of England’s World Cup opponents.
“I was pleased how it went,” said Keogh. “It was good to be back out there – it’s the best thing you can do, really, especially after how the season ended.
“I have always been confident I can play at this level. I am still young, I am still learning all the time.
“It was a cruel way to end the season after a really good season both personally and for Derby, so the best thing I did was meet up straight away and try to forget about it.
“All these guys have been absolutely fantastic with me and made me forget about it a little bit.
“I am happiest when I am out there playing football.”
Kevin Doyle put Ireland ahead after 18 minutes against Costa Rica, who were reduced to 10 men shortly before half-time when Giancarlo Gonzalez was sent off following an ugly altercation with the goal scorer.
But Celso Borges levelled from the penalty spot in the 64th minute, after Marco Urena was brought down by goalkeeper David Forde.
Republic captain Robbie Keane could have restored his side’s lead almost immediately but saw his spot kick saved by substitute keeper Patrick Pemberton.
Keogh hit out at Gonzalez, who left Doyle covered in blood after elbowing the striker.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game but I suppose in a friendly, you are not expecting someone to elbow someone in the head,” said the Derby man.
“You wouldn’t expect that in any game, let alone a friendly game. He’s got stitches in there now, Doyler.
“It was stupid - he deserved to be sent off. You don’t want to see that on a football pitch.
“I hope he learns from it because he has let his team-mates down and let his country down.
“It was a poor challenge. If you look back at it, even their players were apologising for it.
“It was stupid, very stupid. I don’t know what went through his head but he deserved the red card.”
Ireland are back in action against Portugal in New Jersey in the early hours of Wednesday morning.