Troy Parrott takes another assured step to stardom

Troy Parrott takes another assured step to stardom
Troy Parrott in action against Michael Boxall of New Zealand. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The Aviva wasn't exactly the place to be tonight but it's no stretch to say that most of those fans who made the effort would have had a debut goal for a much-hyped wunderkind near the top of their list of wants and needs.

 

They got it. Callum McCowatt has been making a name for himself in New Zealand and the Wellington Phoenix striker took his chance when it arose just after the half-hour here. Another box ticked for the 20-year old who has already had trials in Europe.

Troy Parrott had no such luck but, hey, not all dreams come true.

Mick McCarthy has pointed out that Robbie Keane was an established player with Wolves – 38 appearances and eight goals - in what is now the Championship when he made his first senior start for Ireland. He could have added the fact that it took the man from Tallaght five games to claim his first goal for his country.

Not everyone gets to experience the thrill of finding the net from the off as Frank Stapleton did three minutes into his maiden appearance away to Turkey in 1976. No harm in pointing out here either that 'Stapo' had already formed a prolific partnership with Malcolm McDonald at Arsenal by then.

Parrott is still turning out for Tottenham's U19s.

Still, you would imagine that his presence in the starting line-up, announced well in advance by McCarthy, added to the footfall on a cold and unforgiving night. Deadly Irish strikers don't grow on trees, after all, but there was still an emptiness to the Aviva that went well beyond the unclaimed seats.

This was pegged as the biggest night of the young Dubliner's career but there was a hint of Roy Keane's senior bow against Chile at the old Lansdowne Road back in 1991 about it. Keane said after that game that it hadn't actually been all that big of an occasion. And he was right in his own contrary way.

This was much the same.

Not since the abomination that was the Nations Cup has this stadium felt so devoid of life and God knows that there have been many a time between then and now when a doctor could have been called to check on the patient's pulse and declare the poor old sod beyond saving.

Any atmosphere attempted was artificial. The lights show put on to the strains of 'Brewing Up A Storm' shortly before the start was played out to a near-empty ground. It had the feel of a nightclub that was trying too hard just as the doors had opened for business.

Parrott is used to being a big name on such a minor stage.

The exploits most of us have salivated over so far have been honed from footage of underage games played out in front of mostly empty stadiums. So a game against the All Whites in front of a crowd that may well have slotted into Tallaght Stadium didn't seem to represent such a quantum leap.

Which is not to dilute what this must have meant. This wasn't a UEFA Youth League game against Red Star, against whom he claimed four of Tottenham's nine goals this season. This was a senior debut for his country regardless of the low-key surrounds and stakes and he had his moments in leading the line.

McCarthy laughed off the hirsute appearance of the 17-year old this week, joking that he himself had a full beard at that age, but there was a sense of the slender about him as he took his mark in between the central defensive pairing of Winston Reid and Michael Boxall.

Parrott didn't get much change in some early aerial tangos but he showed quick feet and no little game intelligence with his movement in a first-half which saw a couple of shots blocked by the close attentions of a visiting player. His speed in breaking for space on the counter was especially slick.

Parrott showed a bit of bite after 16 minutes when clipping Reid on the calf in the centre circle. It was an act that earned him a staring down from the West Ham United man but there could have been a penalty for him shortly after when he was nudged in the back in contending for possession.

Sean Maguire scores the second goal. Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Sean Maguire scores the second goal. Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
  

McCarthy would call him ashore shortly after the hour but his best was still to come in that truncated second period. It was Parrott's eagerness to win the ball back on the edge of the Kiwi area and then his subsequent pass that set Sean Maguire up for the home team's second goal. And that favour was almost returned by the Preston forward shortly after.

Parrott's name won't be the one up in lights today. Maguire and Callum Robinson breaking their international ducks will see to that. But he continues to move ever further up the bill.

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