The Republic of Ireland may have fallen to a 1-0 defeat to Turkey in Antalyaspor, but there were still many positives to take away from Martin O’Neill’s side on an experimental occasion.
Many unfamiliar names took to the field for Ireland – with Scott Hogan and Declan Rice making debuts, and Sean Maguire, Colin Doyle and Alan Browne also handed starts for the friendly.
Although Mehmat Topal’s goal proved the difference – there was only one thing fans wanted to talk about after the game, and that was the performance of debutant Rice.
The 19-year-old was named Man of the Match by RTÉ for an assuring display both in defence and midfield, and with his name trending on Twitter – many supporters took to social media to sing the youngster’s praises, after a performance that has provided plenty of hope for the future:
Declan Rice?Brilliant performance!!!? #COYBIG
— James Feeney (@JamesFeeney1997) March 23, 2018
— Patrick O’Connell (@Pa_O_Connell) March 23, 2018
Seamus Coleman on 19-year-old Declan Rice: “A few of us could have taken a leaf out of his book today and that’s the truth.”
— Paul Dollery (@PaulDollery) March 23, 2018
Declan Rice getting named MOM on his international senior debut. Man’s going to the very top.
— Scott Haime (@scotthaime) March 23, 2018
Despite what we are told international football is a step up for most of our players. A tough night for some of our new lads.
That said, nothing is more clear than the fact that Declan Rice is more than ready for this level.
An Irish captain in the making. #COYBIG
— TheOpelJersey (@TheOpelJersey) March 23, 2018
Let’s hope that time flies from an Irish perspective – so the West Ham youngster makes a competitive cap which quashes rumours of a potential England bow.
If one thing looks a certainty – it’s that this performance will do him no harm in future.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena