Ireland to face Turkey and Italy before US tour
Delaney hopes Ireland will play one more game in US
Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane will carry out the sod-turning on the FAI’s Academy in March. Photograph: Alan Betson
The Republic of Ireland will kick off their end-of-season programme by hosting Turkey in Dublin on May 25th, followed six days later with a game against Italy in Zurich, Monte Carlo or London.
FAI chief executive John Delaney confirmed the fixtures yesterday while also revealing that plans for Martin O’Neill’s squad to fulfil at least one more friendly in the United States are on track.
With the Euro 2016 draw in Nice looming on February 23rd, and with it the qualifiers from September being set out, the summer workouts will take on added importance to previous years due the absence of the traditional friendly date in August.
Delaney also explained that England are near certainties to visit Dublin in March of next year, should the nations avoid each other when the qualifying groups are known in three weeks’ time.
“We have a reciprocal agreement with the English FA,” said Delaney regarding what would be the first Dublin meeting between the nations since the infamous 1995 friendly which was abandoned due to rioting by the visiting supporters.
“We went and played in Wembley last May and, with the best endeavours, they’ll come on a March date of next year.
“First of all we have to see if we draw them this month. Murphy’s law is we’ll probably get them now.
“It looks like we’ll play Turkey at home in May, with the FAI Junior Cup final taking place on the same day before it. It’s not nailed down but I’m reasonably confident of getting that signed and sealed.
Down to venue
“The Italy one is actually just down to the venue. We’ll know which one of the three within the next couple of days.
“The United States tour looks positive. It would be unfair to say the opposition as we’re not as advanced. The agents obviously come with proposals but we’d like to play at least one game in America.”
Delaney also stated that Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane will carry out the sod-turning on the FAI’s Academy in Abbostown on March 3rd.
In September 2012, the FAI received funding of €888,852 from Fifa and the Irish Sports Council towards the project, with the FAI chief confirming that the Dublin and District Schoolboys League have also committed an investment – understood to be €500,000.
He said: “That’s the next phase and something I’m very positive about because, in a year or two, we’ll have our own academy with six pitches. That’s something the FAI have never had.
“The next 12 months is a big step up in underage development in this country which will have long term benefits. We will unveil our national development plan under (High-Performance Director) Ruud Dokter.
“That may well mean an under-17 National League. That’s something that I know the guys are going to do a tour over the coming months to try and get an under-17 National League in place over the next year.”