‘No pain, no gain’ would appear to be Martin O’Neill’s mantra as, going into Saturday’s game against the USA, his Ireland side are still looking for a first win since the memorable but now very distant 1-0 victory over Wales in Cardiff last October.
On the eve of Ireland’s friendly defeat in Turkey last Friday, Seamus Coleman conceded that, as the team captain — and a Premier League player to boot — the focus of attention would inevitably be on his welcome in a green shirt after a year out through injury.
Disappointed with the result and, especially, the concession of a goal from a set-piece he might have been but Martin O’Neill made no secret of the fact that a big consolation in defeat for Ireland in Turkey last night was the assured debut of Declan Rice in both defence and midfield.
That just last Sunday saw him crowned the League of Ireland Player of the Year for his pivotal contribution to Cork City’s 2017 title triumph is a timely reminder of how fast and how far Sean Maguire has come over the past 12 months, with not even the intervention of serious hamstring injury putting anything like a full stop to his gallop in the Championship with Preston.
Shane Duffy was named the FAI Senior Player of the Year for 2017 last night but the big Brighton defender was unable to collect his award in person as the weather took its toll on the annual televised ceremony in RTÉ, with the programme having to be shortened from a scheduled running time of 90 minutes to one hour.
In calling up Declan Rice to his squad for this month’s training camp and friendly in Turkey, Martin O’Neill has stressed that the highly-rated young West Ham defender, who is still eligible to play senior football for both Ireland and England, will not come under any pressure to decide his international future.
Turkish soldiers killed four suspected Islamic State militants today and authorities detained 11 demonstrators a day before leaders of the G20 group of economic powerhouses meet for a summit overshadowed by the slaughter in Paris.