Saturday 18 August 2018

WATCH: Martin O'Neill and Seamus Coleman hail Declan Rice after his impressive Ireland debut

Declan Rice made a big impression on his Ireland debut
Declan Rice made a big impression on his Ireland debut
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill was joined by captain Seamus Coleman in hailing the contribution of debutant Declan Rice in the 1-0 defeat against Turkey in Antalya.

English-born Rice was the stand-out performer for Ireland, as he banished any doubters over his eagerness to represent Ireland at international level with a classy performance that was saluted by Coleman.

"We’re disappointed to have lost but I thought Declan was brilliant," said captain Coleman, himself making a first international appearance since breaking a leg against Wales last year.

"He wasn’t just brilliant today, he’s been brilliant all week in training. He’s a great lad, desperate to do will and a few of us could have taken a leaf out of his book today."

O'Neill was equally gushing over one of his new boys, on a night when he also handed starts to Seanie Maguire and Scott Hogan.

"That was pretty impressive for a 19-year-old," said the Ireland boss when asked by RTE about Rice's performance, before he was asked about his concerns of the rising star being tapped by England's international side.

"Until someone is over the line you don’t want to be calling it in. But he loves playing for us," added O'Neill, with Rice not officially confirmed as an Ireland player until he plays in a competitive match.

"His father was there tonight too, so that’s good news. With that sort of a performance we’d obviously want him."

Rice certainly seemed to enjoy his moment in the spotlight, as he was delighted with his man of the match award.

"You always dream of having a good start," said the defender.

"Only being 19 years old, and it being my debut in a great venue against a great team, to get man of the match is the icing on the cake.

"The result was disappointing but on a personal level, I was happy to go out there and prove a point."

Online Editors

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