There has been a lot of hype about the Ireland U21 squad over the past few months after they reached the semi final of The Maurice Revello Tournament, and following their UEFA Championship 1-0 victory over Armenia and a 3-1 defeat of Sweden. Many of the U21 stars are competing at a very high club standard and continue to grow.
Firstly, the goalkeeper Caiomhín Kelleher. The former Ringmahon Rangers man now plying his trade with the European Champions Liverpool. Kelleher joined the Liverpool Academy in 2015 and made his first team debut against MK Dons last Wednesday where Liverpool won 2-0. Kelleher has been consistent over the last few years for Ireland and there is no doubt he will push on from making his Liverpool debut to bigger and better things.
The regular at right back for Ireland is the Waterford man, Lee O’Connor. O’Connor secured a 4-year deal with Celtic on the 2 nd of September. Having spent 3 years in the Manchester United Academy before his move North to Glasgow, he has loads of potential and is an exciting prospect. Conor Masterson and Dara O’ Shea make up the half back line. Masterson joined the Liverpool Academy in
2013 and spent 6 years there before making the move to Queen’s Park Rangers.
Dara O’Shea who came through the ranks at St. Kevin’s Boys in Dublin, is now at West Bromwich Albion. In his younger years, O’ Shea spent time at Exeter City and FC Hereford, so he has plenty experience across the water which will certainly benefit him in the long run. Darragh Leahy is Irelands main left back and is one of several League of Ireland players in the Irish set up. He has made 23 league appearances for Bohemians so far this season. In 2015, Darragh moved to Coventry and also spent time on loan at Nuneaton. His performances for Bohs this season have been impressive, and he promises to get better in the coming years.
One of 3 midfielders is Conor Coventry. Coventry moved to West Ham in 2016 and has progressed up to the U23 squad where he has featured in the Premier League and Carabao Cup. Coventry is also captain of the West Ham squad which shows his determination and courage, and he is sure to be a vital part of the Ireland squad over the coming months. The Irish captain is Jayson Molumby.
Molumby was loaned out to Millwall over the summer and is set to return to Brighton at the end of the season. The Cappoquin native has made 3 starts so far for Millwall and this experience will hopefully see him break into the first team when he returns to Brighton. Another Bohemians man in the midfield 3 is Danny Mandroiu. Mandroiu has scored 10 goals for Bohs in 27 appearances so far this season, including a sensational strike against Dublin rivals Shamrock Rovers. He has been a vital part of Bohs surge towards a European spot in the league, and having only made his Ireland U21 debut this season, there is plenty more to come from Danny.
Perhaps the most formidable attacking line Ireland U21 have had in many years, includes Troy Parrott, Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah. Parrott has gained many plaudits over the past few months for his impressive performances for Ireland and Tottenham Hotspur. The teenager scored a brace to overturn a 1-0 deficit to Sweden which Ireland eventually won 3-1. Parrott also made his senior
debut for Spurs last Tuesday night against Colchester in the Carabao Cup. Likewise with similar success is Aaron Connolly who has been making a great name for himself at Brighton. He has netted 3 goals in 2 appearances for the U23 whilst scoring 1 goal in 5 appearances for the senior squad. After his many impressive performances in an Ireland jersey, many are suggesting he should be
promoted to the senior squad. Completing the line up is Douglas man, Adam Idah. Idah joined Norwich in 2017 from College Corinthians. He went on to win the player of the season award for the 2017/2018 and was one of eight players nominated for the Premier League 2 player of the season award, scoring 12 goals in 19 league games. Idah’s success earned him promotion to the senior Norwich squad where he made his competitive debut against Crawley Town in the EFL Cup. Taking all things into account, it is safe to say that the future of Irish football is in a good place. With all players playing at a decent club level, they are on track to make Ireland competitive in each of their upcoming campaigns.