Club boss Clough is a keen admirer. After the striker made his international debut, Clough said: “To leave Conor on all game is the biggest compliment the manager could pay him. On your debut, you usually get about 60 or 70 minutes and then a pat on the back.
“To leave Conor on and against good opposition shows how well he did. He gave the ball away late on and chased back 60 yards and won a throw-in. That sums up Conor. We have seen that honesty and appetite for hard work all season. It is the main thing that attracted us to him.”
Although Sammon has yet to get on the scoresheet in his seven caps to date, the Malahide man played an important role in getting Ireland’s World Cup qualifying campaign back on track.
Most notably he won a penalty, converted by Jon Walters, in the 2-2 draw against Austria in March. He then unselfishly teed up Robbie Keane to seal his hat-trick in the 3-0 win over the Faroe Islands earlier this month, having also provided the assist for his skipper in the 4-0 friendly win against Georgia five days previously.
Keane said: “Conor came on against the Faroes and set up another goal for me, so that was two from two games. He’s very effective. He’s so big but he’s also quick. Against the Faroes, a player had 10 yards on him out on the right wing but he caught him. I didn’t realise how fast he was until then.
“Height-wise, he is like Niall Quinn but they are completely different. Because he’s tall, people look at Conor as a target-man but he has pace as well. With the two goals he set up for me, he showed that he’s got that in his locker as well.”
But perhaps the highlight of the 26-year-old’s brief international career to date came in Ireland’s last outing, the New York friendly defeat against Spain earlier this month. Although the World and European champions ran out 2-0 winners, Ireland’s performance provided some encouragement for the future with Sammon’s physical presence proving a nuisance for the Spanish defence.
In one break, he muscled unsuspecting Barcelona star Gerard Pique off the ball to create a chance out of nothing. Although Sammon’s subsequent shot let him down, Keane was once again impressed with his efforts and said: ”Conor was a handful. I don’t think Pique knew what hit him when the two of them went down the line. It was a good experience for Conor coming in against these players.”
Another man to have gained vital experience last season is Sammon’s Pride Park team-mate Keogh. Having signed from Coventry City last summer, he was immediately handed the captain’s armband by Clough and went on to make 49 first-team appearances for his new club over the course of the season.
Like Sammon, Keogh is also 26 and a also a late bloomer on the international stage. His first taste of football at that level was his brief cameo role against Poland, having come on as a late substitute for Ciaran Clark. The Essex-born centre-half had to wait until June to add to his international appearances but in doing so, he capped off his first Ireland start with a goal in the win over Georgia.
After the game, Keogh beamed: “It couldn’t have gone any better really. Great to get a first start and show the manager what I can do. To top it off with a goal, I’m over the moon. Every since I’ve been involved I’ve been made to feel very welcome. I’m buzzing.”
But one of the brightest prospects for both Derby County and for Ireland is undoubtedly Hendrick. Still just 21, the Dubliner now has four caps to his name and has already made 91 first-team appearances for the Rams.
Having established himself as a first-team regular at club level, the former St Kevin’s Boys starlet it tipped to do likewise for Ireland in the future, but he is keeping his feet on the ground.
He explained: “International football is different to the Championship. You are playing against better players and if you do give the ball away, you are more likely to be punished. So you have to maintain possession all the time really and there are times you can get away with it in the Championship but that is less the case in international football.
“I thought I’d be staying with the Ireland Under-21s so I’m just happy Trapattoni gave me the chance. I just want to keep trying to get into the squad and keep trying to improve my game.
“Everyone dreams of doing that when you are younger, that is what you always want to do but I didn’t think it would come this quickly. Hopefully, I can get a few more games and keep improving my game and see where that takes me.”
TRAVELLING FROM DERBY FOR THE GAME?
Our good friends at the Temple Bar Hotel have joined us in welcoming Derby County supporters to Dublin.
The hotel, with an unrivaled location in the very heart of Dublin city centre, is providing special weekend bed and breakfast rates for the travelling Rams of €95 per single room and €125 per double room.
To make a reservation, please contact the Temple Bar Hotel at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +353 1 677 3333 – and make sure to mention you’re coming to Dublin for the Bohs game!
Nestled in the most vibrant area of city centre bars, restaurants and nightclubs, and close to all major bus and rail links in the city, this hotel offers every possible amenity on its doorstep.
Dublin’s most popular shopping streets – Grafton St and Henry St – are both within short walking distance, while the city’s most popular tourist attractions are accessible by foot and by bus/Luas.
And that’s not all… The Temple Bar Hotel not only has a great location, but offers guests full entertainment facilities all under one roof! Check out www.buskersbar.com & www.alchemyclub.ie for more details.