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Lee O'Connor on the cusp of Wembley final after man-of-the-match display

The 20-year-old Waterford native helped Tranmere Rovers get the better of Peterborough United last night.

Lee O'Connor at Tranmere Rovers (file pic).
Lee O'Connor at Tranmere Rovers (file pic).
Image: PA

LEE O’CONNOR AND Tranmere Rovers are just one win away from a Wembley final after upsetting Peterborough United last night at Prenton Park.

Currently sitting in fifth place in League Two, Tranmere booked their place in the semi-finals of the EFL Trophy with a 2-1 victory against Peterborough, who are fifth in League One.

Republic of Ireland international O’Connor played a key role for the Merseyside club, to whom he’s currently on a season-long loan from Celtic.

The 20-year-old, who usually operates as a full-back, earned the man-of-the-match award while operating as a defensive midfielder – a position he also excelled in while captaining Ireland at the U19 European Championships in 2019.

O’Connor returned last night after missing Tranmere’s last six games, with the Waterford native sidelined since 10 January due to Covid-19. 

“He has played that [role] before so it’s not surprising,” Tranmere Rovers manager Keith Hill said of O’Connor’s performance after last night’s game.

“Lee O’Connor is a very intelligent football player. He’s been off with Covid but he’s back in the squad now. I think Lee could play in most positions on the football pitch because he’s intelligent.” 

Although yet to make a first-team appearance for Celtic since his September 2019 transfer from Manchester United, O’Connor has played 27 times across loan spells as Tranmere and Partick Thistle.

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Having starred for the Ireland U21s under Stephen Kenny, he was rewarded with a senior debut by Mick McCarthy in a friendly against New Zealand in November 2019.

If Tranmere are to advance to the EFL Trophy final at Wembley on 14 March, they’ll need to cause another upset as the other contenders are all from the division above. In fact, there was significant Irish involvement in the quarter-final victories of all the remaining sides.

Aiden McGeady scored in Sunderand’s 3-0 win at MK Dons, while on-loan QPR winger Olamide Shodipo continued his good form by hitting his ninth goal of the season as Oxford United ran out 3-1 winners against AFC Wimbledon.

The meeting of Hull City and Lincoln City, which ended 1-1, was settled by a penalty shootout. Ireland U21 international Anthony Scully converted for Lincoln, before former Dundalk midfielder Jordan Flores had his penalty saved which saw Hull crash out.

A date for the EFL Trophy semi-final draw has yet to be decided, but the ties are scheduled to be played on 16/17 February.

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Paul Dollery

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