Monday 20 May 2019

WATCH: Declan Rice wins praise from Ireland boss Martin O'Neill once again after latest sparkling display

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Photo: Reuters
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Photo: Reuters
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill lavished praise on the 'outstanding' Declan Rice after another man of the match display from the teenager in the win over USA.

The 19-year-old started in central midfield for Ireland in a 3-5-2 formation and shone in a game where the hosts came from behind to win for the first time in O'Neill's tenure

Graham Burke and Alan Judge provided the goals, but Rice was foremost in the manager's thoughts afterwards.

"One thing I did learn was that Rice was the most outstanding player, probably on the pitch," said O'Neill, who was happy with the West Ham's pass to James McClean that paved the way for Judge's injury time winner.

"He's found a man and played it with precision and that allowed James to go into the penalty area. Where he plays now is another point. We've had him playing central midfield and I thought he commanded that brilliantly, he gets close to players. He's a proper talent. The fact he played so well augurs well."

Ireland's Graham Burke (right) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

O'Neill was pleased for Judge who has just recovered from over two years out after breaking his leg before Euro 2016.

Burke also become the first League of Ireland player to score for Ireland since 1978 with a close range effort before his substitution, although O'Neill suggested that he has been more impressed by the Dubliner's performance in training than his actual contribution to tonight's game.

"I thought the game was perhaps a tough match for him, which I expected," he said. "But I'm happy for him because of his attitude in training, wanting to try and score goals and put the ball into the net. To a certain extent, he got some reward for it.

"It was quite quick tonight at times for him in the first half. Some of it was maybe a bit strange for him. Whatever he has designs on, I think he has to try and push on," continued the manager, when asked if Burke might feature in his squads come the autumn.

"If he wants to go back and play in England, these things can only give him the bigegst boost of confidence. I'll keep an eye on things and see how he goes. I'm really delighted for him.

"It's very pleasing for Alan too, he's had a really tough time. He's a really likeable lad and the feeling (after goal) was if he'd won the World Cup for us."

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