Shane Long will complete the perfect week when he leads Ireland out for Sunday’s friendly against Georgia. The 26-year-old West Brom striker has been handed the captain’s armband for what will be his 36th senior appearance for his country with manager Giovanni Trapattoni fielding a much-changed side. Long’s honour comes just days after he gave Ireland a dream lead against England at Wembley, and he said: “I didn’t think the week could get any better after Wednesday night.” Long added: “It was obviously a great thing for me to score at Wembley, but I think the biggest honour you can get is to captain your country and I was delighted to get the nod from the gaffer.” Long was only informed of his elevation after training in Malahide on Saturday morning when Trapattoni called him to one side. He said: “The boss kept the team close to his chest. He asked how many caps I had – and I might have exaggerated a little bit. But he told me I was the most-capped player and he me wanted to lead the team out tomorrow, and obviously it is a personal highlight for me.” It will be the first time Long has captained a senior team, although he had plenty of experience as both a footballer and a hurler during his younger days. He said: “It’s the first time I have been captain in my senior career, so I am really excited. In underage football, I got the captaincy quite a bit, but I have always been the young one in every squad so far, so it’s nice to get the nod.” Trapattoni opted for Long as his captain after confirming his progression from young to senior player, something which came as a surprise to the frontman. “It kind of came up fairly quickly on me. I have been in the squad a long time, I suppose, I have been with the lads a long time,” Long added. “I always dreamt of this day coming, so I am delighted it’s finally here. Normally, I’m fairly quiet on the pitch, but I think tomorrow will be different and I will be trying to help out the team as best I can.” Press Association
WELLINGTON, New Zealand, (CMC) – West Indies failed in their bid for a breakthrough in the short period before tea, as they continued to struggle after being dismissed cheaply on the opening day of the first Test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve here today.At tea, New Zealand were nine without loss, with opener Tom Latham (six not out) and Jeet Raval (three not out) encountering few jitters in the six overs available to them.Left-arm seamer Neil Wagner had earlier claimed a career-best seven-wicket haul as West Indies lost their last seven wickets for 55 runs after lunch to be dismissed for 134 in their first innings.Opener Kieran Powell top-scored with 42 and partner Kraigg Brathwaite got 24, but it went downhill quickly for the visitors, after the pair put on 59 for the first wicket.Resuming after lunch on 79 for three, the Caribbean side lost wickets steadily to be bowled out, 40 minutes before tea, with the outstanding Wagner claiming seven for 39.New ball bowler, left-armer Trent Boult, picked up two for 36.The performance by Wagner was the second best by a New Zealand bowler against West Indies.Shai Hope, yet to score at lunch, perished to the second ball after the resumption without adding when he pulled at Wagner and brushed a leg-side catch behind, with a single run added to the score.Seven balls later, debutant Sunil Ambris trod on his stumps off Wagner to depart without scoring, leaving West Indies 80 for five.Roston Chase turned Wagner around the corner to be caught at leg slip by Raval on 97 for six and captain Jason Holder was yorked first ball, to extend the Windies’ misery.Dowrich was run out in a mix up with Roach and Miguel Cummins was bowled for one playing down the wrong line, before Roach and Shannon Gabriel (10) put on 29 for the last wicket – the second-best stand of the innings – to frustrate the Black Caps.