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Successful return from 18-month absence for former Ireland U21 captain

Tommie Hoban helped Aberdeen to get the better of St Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership.

Tommie Hoban tangling with Jermain Defoe while playing for Aberdeen against Rangers in February 2019.
Tommie Hoban tangling with Jermain Defoe while playing for Aberdeen against Rangers in February 2019.
Image: Jeff Holmes

TOMMIE HOBAN CAME through all 90 minutes against St Johnstone last night as Aberdeen got off the mark for the new Scottish Premiership campaign.

It was a significant step for Hoban, who hadn’t played a game of competitive football in 18 months.

The former Republic of Ireland U21 international was hit by the latest setback in an injury-ravaged career in February 2019.

While on loan at Aberdeen from Watford, the London-born central defender ruptured his anterior cruciate knee ligament in a game against St Mirren.

Hoban, who was then released by Watford last summer after his contract expired, was ready to make his comeback earlier this year for Aberdeen, but that was put on hold when the 2019-20 season was halted by the ongoing pandemic.

The 26-year-old finally returned to action last night, as Aberdeen rebounded from their Covid-19 shutdown with a 1-0 victory at McDiarmid Park thanks to Ryan Hedges’ late goal.

Ireland international Jonny Hayes also started for the Dons, but they were still without four other members of a group of players who were forced to self-isolate after an ill-judged night-out that sparked the postponement of three matches.

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After making his debut for Watford in the Championship at the age of 17, Hoban reportedly attracted interest from Liverpool and Manchester United.

He captained an Ireland U21 side that included future senior internationals like Jack Byrne, Callum O’Dowda, Sean Maguire, Alan Browne, Josh Cullen and Darragh Lenihan.

Martin O’Neill monitored his progress with a view to a graduation to the senior ranks, but a series of injuries ultimately prevented that interest from developing further.

“I’m still as confident as I’ve ever been in my own ability,” Hoban said in an interview with The42 back in February.

 “Hopefully if I can get a bit of luck, get a run of games and get the body going again, I can work my way back up and get back to where I was before and hopefully even higher.”

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