Aaron Connolly called into Ireland squad for Euro 2020 double-header
Teenager scored twice on full Premier League debut against Spurs to earn call-up
Aaron Connolly scores his team second and Brighton’s third goal against Tottenham. Photograph: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
Aaron Connolly, who scored twice on his full Premier League debut as Brighton beat Tottenham 3-0 on Saturday, has been called into the Republic of Ireland senior squad for the forthcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers in Georgia and Switzerland. Blackburn Rovers defender Derrick Williams has also been added to Mick McCarthy’s panel for the games.
With a major question mark still hanging over Sheffield United’s David McGoldrick ability to take any part in the double-header and Portsmouth’s Ronan Curtis now ruled out with a hamstring injury McCarthy has moved to bring in Connolly.
The 19-year-old from Galway was already in contention for a call up to the senior squad with his fortunes linked to those of McGoldrick, who has been injured for the past couple of weeks. Even though his manager Chris Wilder had said this week that he expects the player to join up with the Ireland squad, the striker did not make the bench for his club’s game at Watford,.
Williams comes in after Greg Cunningham and Darragh Lenihan suffered knee injuries on Saturday.
“Aaron and Derrick will join up with the squad on Sunday after injuries to Ronan, Greg and Darragh,” McCarthy said on Saturday evening. “I have spoken to Aaron and Derrick and they are looking forward to meeting up with us. Aaron enjoyed his full debut for Brighton and we have been keeping a close eye on his progress this season.
“Derrick was in the extended 41-man squad for these games and playing regularly for Blackburn so this is his chance now.”
Connolly said he was expecting a sleepless night after his goal-scoring exploits against Spurs and that the performance was the “proudest moment,” of his career so far, something made all the more special because his father had flown over from Ireland on the basis that the teenager might start the game.
“I can’t really describe it at the moment,” said Connolly, shortly after the game had finished. “I feel speechless and I don’t think it will sink in for a while. I know I won’t be sleeping this evening!
“I’ve been close to scoring in the last few matches but thankfully it’s come today, and I’ve scored twice, it’s the proudest moment of my career so far and now I want to push on for more.
“It made it even more special that it was at the Amex (and that) my Dad flew over to watch this morning in the hope that I’d start. I looked up to celebrate with him when I got the second goal.
“I’m so grateful for all the hard work all my family have put in and it’s great to know I’ve made them proud. They’ve dropped me to training and games when I was young and sat out in the cold watching, and that was for them today as much as it was for me.”
The teenager was one of three Irish scorers in the Premier League with Conor Hourihane getting Aston Villa’s fourth in a 5-1 win at Norwich while Jeff Hendrick got the only goal of the game as Burnley beat Everton. Irish skipper, Seamus Coleman was sent off for a second yellow card offence before the Dubliner had scored in that game.