Ireland can’t moan over Rice’s decision; Roux one of Ireland’s unsung heroes
Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
Borussia Dortmund’s Thomas Delaney andTottenham’s Moussa Sissoko compete for the ball during their Champions League Round of 16 clash. Photo: David Klein/Reuters
The red-hot form of Son Heung-min just shows no signs of abating and the South Korean once again stepped up last night in what was a dream first leg for Spurs in their Champions League last-16 clash with Borussia Dortmund. With Harry Kane and Dele Alli among the absentees, Mauricio Pochettino’s side took the Bundesliga leaders by storm with Jan Vertonghen and Fernando Llorente adding two more second half goals to give Spurs a 3-0 lead heading to Germany for the second leg. It leaves Pochettino and his side with one foot in the quarter-finals and afterwards the manager hailed his ‘heroes’ in what was a magnificent performance. In the night’s other game Real Madrid took a 2-1 advantage away from Amsterdam thanks to an opening goal from Karim Benzema before Marco Asensio added a late winner after Hakim Ziyech had equalised for the Dutch side. But the big news of the day from an Irish perspective was Declan Rice and his declaration to play for England rather than Ireland who he had already played three senior friendlies for. The West Ham midfielder has been in excellent form of late and the confirmation that he has requested an international transfer brings to end a long-running saga but one that, Emmet Malone writes this morning, Ireland can really have any qualms about. “Rice may well regret a few of the things he said after games he played in green but we should ask ourselves for a second what choice we actually left him with. If he is genuinely happy now to be playing for the country of his birth, we should just simply wish him well,” he writes.
Moving on to rugby and this morning John O’Sullivan writes in his statistics column about Ireland’s unsung heroes. Originally omitted from the Ireland squad, Quinn Roux only got the call after injuries to Iain Henderson and Tadhg Beirne but he has answered it with aplomb. Ireland racked up a figure of 387 under the “own ruck arrivals” moniker – it signifies the number of Irish players to contest a ruck in which Ireland had possession – with Roux leading the way on 54, the stats show.