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New Irish Centre-Back Partnership Getting Plenty Of Praise In The Championship

New Irish Centre-Back Partnership Getting Plenty Of Praise In The Championship
By PJ Browne

Down to the bare bones at centre-back in recent games, Blackburn Owen Coyle has had to improvise.

Gordon Greer was forced off injured against Ipswich on October 15th. Off the bench came Meathman Darragh Lenihan. Though not a stranger to playing centre-back, Lenihan has usually been deployed in a defensive midfield role at Blackburn.

The man Lenihan partnered in central defence that day was another Irish underage international - Tommie Hoban. The 22-year-old is currently on loan at Ewood Park from Watford.

This season, starts have been sporadic for Lenihan - seven, compared to eight appearances off the bench. It does sound like a more regular place in the Blackburn starting XI - like he had last season - could be in Lenihan's future.

Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph, Owen Coyle had some words of acclaim for the Ireland U21 international.

Darragh’s obviously played as a midfielder, but he came on at half-time as centre-back against Ipswich and was outstanding.

If you remember, in the Leeds United EFL Cup tie he was also outstanding at centre-back.

So we know he can play there and I think he’s been terrific.

There are times when he is composed and he passes and moves, and there are times when he knows that he has to clear his lines very effectively.

He reminds me of an old-fashioned centre-back, and we still crave the qualities that those boys had. Darragh shows a lot of that.

I’m delighted for him because when you’re on the periphery and you want to play, when you step in it’s important that you show it and Darragh has done that.

That’s why at a moment’s notice you’ve got to be ready to go onto that field and step into the team. I’ve always said it will be a fair fight.

I think he’s been outstanding.

Since that injury suffered by Greer, Lenihan has started two Championship games at centre-back with Hoban, a 2-1 win against Nottingham Forest and a 1-0 loss to Bristol City.

Coyle thinks that Lenihan and Hoban have been excellent together.

The centre-halves were fantastic against Bristol City.

Darragh and Tommie are both international players and Tommie has already won promotion to the Premier League, so for me there’s nothing to debate about their quality. They’ll go on to both have very, very good careers.

They were playing against a very special player [Tammy Abraham], a young talent who’s going to have a great career.

But I thought our two were terrific and long may that continue.

Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

See Also: "I've Got A Problem With That" - Kevin Kilbane And The Issue Of Irish Eligibility In Football And Rugby

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