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'I think it’s the first time I’ve seen one of our players applauded off by the opposition’s fans'

At 39, Wes Hoolahan is still going strong.

Cambridge United's Wes Hoolahan in possession during Saturday's game at Rotherham's New York Stadium.
Cambridge United's Wes Hoolahan in possession during Saturday's game at Rotherham's New York Stadium.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

SIX MONTHS OUT from his 40th birthday, Wes Hoolahan continues to weave his magic.

He was part of a beaten Cambridge United side on Saturday, but even the home supporters at Rotherham United couldn’t resist acknowledging the brilliance of the former Ireland international playmaker.

As they aim for a swift return to the Championship following last season’s relegation, Rotherham moved up to second place in League One courtesy of a 3-1 victory.

Their starting line-up included Irish international Chiedozie Ogbene and former League of Ireland star Kieran Sadlier, while current Ireland U21 striker Joshua Kayode was introduced as a substitute.

However, it was the performance of an Irish member of the Cambridge side that thrilled both sets of fans who were among the 9,534 in attendance at the New York Stadium.

Goals from Ben Wiles and Dan Barlaser had Rotherham in a 2-0 lead at half-time, but Cambridge got themselves back into the contest thanks to Sam Smith on 51 minutes.

Smith’s finish was superb, yet equally impressive was the back-heel from Hoolahan that set it up. In 11 appearances in League One this season, it was the Dubliner’s sixth assist. 

“I thought he was brilliant at the weekend,” Cambridge United manager Mark Bonner said of Hoolahan, who was substituted in the 83rd minute. “I think it’s the first time I’ve seen one of our players applauded off by the opposition’s fans when he came off the pitch.” 

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Freddie Ladapo made sure of the three points with a late third goal for Rotherham, as Cambridge were unable to snatch a point that would have pushed them into the top half of the table.

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Hoolahan played a key role for Cambridge last season as they were promoted from League Two, contributing seven goals and nine assists in his 34 outings.

The former Norwich City player continues to feature prominently for a club who have adapted well to competing in English football’s third tier for the first time in 19 years. 

Bonner added: “Even now at 39, against the top teams [in League One], he’s a top, top player and we’re really lucky to have him.

“Delighted with his impact in the team and around the place. He’s just a dream to work with and hopefully he can continue giving us what he gave us at the weekend as many times as possible.”

Hoolahan won 43 senior caps for Ireland before announcing his retirement from international football in February 2018.

About the author:

Paul Dollery

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