Lee O’Connor made his debut for Ireland last night in quite peculiar circumstances. The 19-year-old is yet to make his debut for Celtic since joining from Manchester United; however, last night the youngster made his bow in the green of Ireland.
Even more bizarrely, Mick McCarthy suggested that O’Connor was there by default after being suspended for the U21 game this week.
“Lee is in a bit by default I guess, given the fact that he is suspended for the under-21s for their game against Armenia.” – Scottish Sun.
O’Connor started and got an assist as Ireland comfortably won 3-0 versus New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium.
Lee O’Connor with the assist for Ireland’s third goal last night. Superb whippage on that cross 🍀
— 🍀 Celtic1967.com 🍀 (@Celtic1967_com) November 15, 2019
Although his inclusion, along with that of debutant Troy Parrott suggests that Mick McCarthy is looking to cast his eye beyond the usual suspects that Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane utilised as they gained qualification for the 2016 Euros. It was O’Neill’s loyalty to these lieutenants that cost him his job with the World Cup play off defeat against Denmark.
It begs the question, where is Jonny Hayes in McCarthy’s reckoning? Hayes has come onto a game with the Scottish Champions, he is reliable, pacy and direct. Surely the type of player that you’d want to have in and around your team.
The versatility that Hayes has is his main attribute. He can play left midfield, right midfield and left back. In March 2016, he gained his first cap. Since then he’s featured just four times for Ireland, a relatively small amount considering his talent and the insistence of Ireland to look to players playing in the lower end of the English Championship – the 6 caps to Hibs’ Daryl Horgan emphasises Hayes’ lack of caps.
At 32, it could be argued that Hayes might not have it in his tank to ply his trade with his national team; then again, people doubted whether the then 30-year-old could prove his worth at Celtic. After a slow start, a bad injury, I think Jonny Hayes has justified his price tag and the move to his boyhood team.
A quick glance at McCarthy’s squad from September suggests that Hayes could easily compete with the Championship dross that predominately occupies the 23-man squad.
That isn’t to say the team is devoid of talent, that would be wildly inaccurate as players like Coleman, Doherty, Arter and Duffy hold their own in the Premier League; however, the amount of average players from England’s second division that occupy berths suggest that Hayes could have a few more international appearances left in him.
McCarthy wants to go for a blend of youth and experience and that’s commendable. His replacement is waiting in the wings, he wants to build a winning philosophy into the club. Then why not get a player that has won a double treble?