Andy Boyle had been waiting to make his Preston debut for more than two months but it still took him by surprise when it came around.
Boyle was pitched into the Lilywhites defence at Derby on Tuesday night, putting in a solid display in the 1-1 draw.
The former Dundalk man’s bow came on his 26th birthday and he enjoyed the occasion.
“I found out an hour-and-a-half before kick-off that I was in the team,” Boyle told the Post.
“With the quick turnaround between the Fulham game and Derby, we didn’t have chance to do too much shape in training.
“So it wasn’t as if I got an idea from training that I would be in.
“It was good to come in and make my debut.
“I couldn’t have too many complaints about it being a long time coming, as the lads had been playing well and on a good run.”
The late news of his debut meant a mad dash to Derby for Boyle’s girlfriend Hayley, who made it to Pride Park part-way through the game.
Boyle felt he coped well in his first game in England.
The central defender said: “I’m used to the lads from training with them every day but there is nothing like a match to get your timings right.
“My last competitive game was in December so hopefully I can get a run in the team and push on.
“The pace of the game was a step up from playing in the League of Ireland – but playing in Europe for Dundalk and the bit of experience I got from training with the Republic of Ireland squad, meant I was not far off it.”
Boyle was joined on the pitch in the 62nd minute by Daryl Horgan, who made the same move in January.
“I’m sure there were plenty of fans back home in Dundalk who were delighted that Daryl and myself were on the pitch together,” said Boyle.
“It was a good moment to be back playing together and we enjoyed being part of a team which got the draw.”