Sinclair Armstrong shines as Rory Finneran makes history in your FA Cup round up

The FA Cup third round began this week and we saw plenty of Irish standouts over the course of the round. From hat-tricks to youngsters getting their first-team debut, it was certainly an eventful round of fixtures. Here is a rundown of how every player got on:

Friday night is where we first draw our attention as four senior internationals played. Nathan Collins started for Brentford in a 1-1 draw against Wolves. Despite a couple of errors last time out when playing his former side, the Kildare man put in a decent display this time around. Up against Collins was Matt Doherty. The wing-back won the most duels (14) and had the most tackles (2) in the game. The pair will meet again in a replay hoping to keep up the standard they showed in this game.

The same could be said for Dara O’Shea and Josh Cullen who impressed Burnley supporters despite a loss to a wondergoal from Spurs’ Pedro Porro. The Burnley duo won 11/13 duels together, while Cullen was fouled 5 times. Cullen also earned praise from legendary striker Ian Wright for his first-half display.

Moving on to Saturday, there was one game that took the crown from an Irish perspective. Lethal Blackburn attacker Sammie Szmodics bagged a first-half hat-trick, continuing his unbelievable form from 2023 into the New Year. Brighton loanee and senior international Andrew Moran also played the 90 minutes. In injury time, hat-trick hero Szmodics came off for Ireland U17 star Rory Finneran who became the youngest ever player to feature for Rovers. Having just won the Victory Shield a couple of months ago, it has been a great time for the midfielder who is only just 15 years of age. He couldn’t even wear the club sponsor on his jersey due to how young he is. We will certainly see more of Finneran in the future.

Evan Ferguson started against Stoke as Brighton ran out 4-2 winners. Fellow Meath man Luke McNally came on at center-back for Stoke.

Jason Knight was part of a spirited Bristol City display where the former Derby man captained his side to a draw away to West Ham.

Despite losing against in-form Bournemouth, U21 striker Sinclair Armstrong showed why he is rated so highly. He powered his way through on goal and composed himself before putting the ball into the bottom right corner. He proved to be a handful with his pace, strength, and dribbling ability all game long. His presence alone can scare defenders and hopefully, this is just the beginning for the 20-year-old. Sinclair scored past Mark Travers who started in goals for Bournemouth. Jimmy Dunne started and played the whole game while former Ireland U21 midfielder Gavin Kilkenny was on the bench for the Cherries .

Andy Lyons and C.J Hamilton were also up against Premier League opposition. They both helped guide Blackpool to a hard-earned draw, with Hamilton getting an assist away at The City Ground.

Jack Taylor scored another cup goal in a 3-1 win against Wimbledon. Marcus Harness also started the game. Both players are looking to impress in the coming months as they are not far from a senior call-up.

Some youngsters hoping to make the Irish U21 squad starred as Oxford United winger Tyler Goodrham came off the bench score a brilliant goal from outside the area against Coventry. Harry Vaughan started on the left wing in a draw for play-off hopefuls Hull City. Aaron Connolly started the game up top also. The former Brighton starlet has the third-best goals per 90-rate in the Championship. Sean McLoughlin started in the heart of the defense for Hull. 20-year-old Alex Gilbert came on in a narrow loss to Aston Villa for Michael Carrick’s Middlesbrough.

Up against the club he supported, Baba Adeeko certainly did not disappoint as Wigan looked good in spells before falling short against Manchester United. Despite coming up against a talented midfield, the energetic midfielder had 2 tackles and 6 recoveries as he won praise from everyone watching.

Despite it not being the FA Cup, it would be nearly impossible to not talk about Aaron Ochoa Moloney. The 16-year-old made his fourth professional appearance as Malaga faced Real Sociedad in the Copa Del Ray. Moloney and Finneran may both be in action for the U17s as they take on the elite round of qualifying for the Euros in March.

Other players in action

Danny McNamara, Millwall- 5/5 tackles won Kevin Long, Birmingham City Shadrach Ogie and Conor Masterson, Gillingham Will Smallbone, Southampton Callum Robinson, Cardiff- Missed penalty

Adam Idah, Norwich- Played second- half

Ryan Delaney , Shane McLoughlin and Harry Charsley, Newport County

David Okagbue, Walsall

Emmanuel Adegboyega, Walsall- Came on in second-half for his debut,

Kyle Houlihan


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