September 27, 2021
News Sport

He walked out on Man United and has yet to play for new club Celtic, but Waterford’s Lee O’Connor makes Ireland debut tonight

Waterford’s Lee O’Connor will make his international debut tonight for the Republic of Ireland even though he has yet to play for the Celtic first team.

Dubbed the new John O’Shea, the 19-year-old will line out at right back as the Boys In Green take on New Zealand’s All Whites in an international friendly at the Aviva Stadium.

O’Connor, who joined Celtic on a four-year deal from Manchester United in September, should be lining out for Stephen Kenny’s Under-21s in a European Championship qualifier against Armenia U21s but is suspended.

The former Villa FC man’s emergence onto the senior men’s national team will come as no surprise for many as he has shown at both U21 and U19 level that he can compete at the highest level.

O’Connor recently admitted that he is still settling in at his new club following his departure from Manchester United, where he spent over three and a half years.

“I’ve been enjoying it,” he said. “I’m just settling in at the moment, I’m just looking forward to playing my football and showing them what I can do.”

“You want to get into the first team. That’s why I went to Celtic — it’s what I’m looking to do and hopefully I can do it.”

Seventeen-year-old Spurs front man Troy Parrott will also make his debut tonight.

Another man who may force his way into the international picture in the coming years is a former Waterford league player who spent time as an army officer in Kilkenny’s James Stephen’s Barracks.

Lee Grace could be set for a spell in the big leagues, as he undergoes trials with an English Championship team this week.

Grace (27) from Carrick-on-Suir, just last week lifted the FAI Cup with Shamrock Rovers and has now attracted the attention of Hull City, who up until the 2017-2018 season were in the Premiership.

Grace is a very late starter to professional football, joining the army on leaving school. It was not until early 2017 Grace really turned his hand to football, signing with Galway United for that season.

Shamrock Rovers paid Galway €25,000 for Grace and gave him a two-year contract before the 2018 season. That contract is now up and Hull could sign Grace on a free.

Lee, a product of the renowned Carrick United team in the Waterford League, is currently on Humberside as part of a three-day trial on the invitation of Hull City Manager Grant McCann.

If Lee signs a contract with Hull, he won’t have far to go for guidance, as another former professional player from Carrick-on-Suir, Stephen Hunt, spent a premiership season with Hull City back in 2009-2010.

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