Conor Hourihane has made his full debut for Ireland, suffering defeat to Iceland.
The Irish were much changed following the battling draw against Wales at the weekend, with Hourihane one of nine fresh faces brought in by former Villa boss Martin O’Neill.
Hourihane played the centre-midfield role in a 4-4-2 and was one of four uncapped players stating for the first time at full international level.
A lacklustre and at times pedestrian Irish performance didn’t provide a great deal to judge many upon, least of all Hourihane.
The Villa man may be disappointed as the guilty party in the wall, permitting an Icelandic free-kick to sail into the net:
On a more positive note, he improved thereafter, but will likely reflect on how singular lapses of judgement at this level will be punished.
However, Hourihane knuckled down despite the error and certainly improved as the game wore on,
Debutant Conor Hourihane ducked in the wall to allow the ball fly beyond Kieren Westwood in the Irish goal. It was that one lapse in concentration that can doom you at international level. Hourihane went on to recover and play well.
The former Barnsley captain played until around the hour mark until a number of changes were made, as systems and players were trialled by O’Neill in a squad that desperately needs to find fresh blood amongst the old guard.
Partnering Jeff Hendrick in central midfield, Hourihane was tidy in possession but spent most of the evening chasing down Iceland attackers before being withdrawn.
The call-up and cap has come after a meteoric rise with Barnsley caught the eye of suitors, with Villa snapping up the midfielder in the January transfer window.
Whilst the Irishman struggled in a restrictive role as Villa came unstuck in a bad run of early year form, his performances and contribution have been impressing since.
Hourihane’s first cap is surely likely to be one of many for a player with all of the attributes to have a lasting international career.
His next chance to stake a claim will be when Ireland face Mexico this summer.