"We dug really deep to get that draw" Shane Long on Serbia qualifier

The Southampton striker played 90 minutes in Belgrade

"We dug really deep to get that draw" Shane Long on Serbia qualifier

Shane Long reacts to a missed chance Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Shane Long led Ireland's attack in the first game of the post-Robbie Keane era, on Monday night in Belgrade.

The Southampton striker was substituted in added time in place of Ciaran Clark, after a tough night in very heavy conditions in Belgrade. Despite losing an early lead, Long told Newstalk he was happy to leave with a point.

"We're happy after going 2-1 down. They're a good side. It was a horrible pitch out there, it was really hard to play on. We dug really deep to get that draw. Not only did we get a point, we took two points off them too."

Torrential rain in the hours before the game did not help either side with Martin O'Neill's side only completing 94 passes during the game. Long felt the conditions did not help the team.

"It was hard to pass it and gain control of the ball. You had to take two touches. You couldn't do much one-touch play. It was particularly tough for us"

Long is now the top scorer in the Ireland squad with 16 goals. Despite not scoring in Belgrade, he was happy with how he coped with leading the attack in testing conditions.

"Some days it's hard up there. I thought I caused a few problems. I was unlucky not to score just before Daryl did. I'm happy with my performance. Hopefully that will lead to an easier game in the future".

The game in Belgrade is Ireland's first since Euro 2016. Despite the disappointing performance in Belgrade, Long admitted that the memories of France, will leave the team in good stead ahead of a qualifying campaign that includes Wales and Austria.

"We can take confidence from how we performed in the Euros against the big sides. We didn't do ourselves any harm. We need to keep the confidence in the squad. It's a new campaign. We need to focus on ten hard games ahead of us."

Ireland's next qualifier is at home to Georgia next month in Dublin. That game is quickly followed by a trip to Moldova three days later.