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Tommie's tricky day

IT WAS a case of mixed fortunes for Ireland hopeful Tommie Hoban in front of manager Martin O'Neill on Saturday.

O'Neill chose not to attend any of the FA Cup ties on Saturday and instead headed to Vicarage Road to watch the Watford-Blackpool Championship tie. Darren O'Dea (pictured), who has yet to feature in the Ireland squad since O'Neill took over, started for Blackpool while U21 cap Hoban started in defence for Watford, and O'Neill was eager to check on the form of Hoban.

But Hoban was substituted at half-time as Blackpool took a shock 2-0 lead, only for Watford to win 7-2, without Hoban.

"We started with many problems. We struggled with long balls but after the first-half my team made a good reaction," said Hornets boss Slavisa Jokanovic, explaining his decision to sacrifice Hoban at the break and introduce an extra midfielder.

O'Neill will also ask FAI staff to examine the eligibility of Niall Maher, the Manchester-born Bolton defender joined Blackpool on loan and made his debut on Saturday.