Ireland U-17s ready to take on Europe's best on home soil

John Delaney is to have no official role in the tournament, it has been confirmed

Republic of Ireland U17 Head Coach Colin O’Brien: ‘They are very capable young lads, the dynamic is very good and they train well.’ Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Republic of Ireland U17 Head Coach Colin O’Brien: ‘They are very capable young lads, the dynamic is very good and they train well.’ Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

The Irish squad completed their preparations for the European Championships in Abbotstown on Thursday morning, and manager Colin O’Brien has a full squad for the hosts’ opening group game on Friday evening in Tallaght.

Southampton’s Roland Idowu has joined up with the group after having been drafted in following the confirmation from Tottenham that Troy Parrott would not be able to participate in the tournament. O’Brien insists that, much as he would have liked to have had the Dublin-born striker around, the 17-year-old had not played for his side this year, and so it has not thrown his preparations in any way.

With Belgium considered strong favourites to take one of the two qualification spots to the four countries in Ireland’s group, this opening game is vitally important to O’Brien and his players as they seek to keep local interest in the event alive beyond the initial stages.

Progress

O’Brien says he is hopeful his side can progress after seeing them train this week.

“They have looked really good over the last few days,” he says. “They are very capable young lads, the dynamic is very good and they train well. But of course you have to be patient with young players in what will be their first competitive game.

“You can never be entirely sure how they will cope with the situation until they are in it, but they are a good group and I know many of them will be really looking to make a name for themselves.”

John Delaney is to have no official role in the tournament, it has been confirmed

The Irish, of course, are that much more of an unknown quantity because they have qualified for the event as hosts, while the Greeks finished second in each of the qualifying group stages, first to Belgium, who they face again here next week, and then to Spain.

Determined

They are, suggests O’Brien, a strong and determined side, with young PAOK striker Christos Tzolis – who scored all five of their goals in qualifying – the most obvious threat. Ireland’s other group rivals the Belgians and Czechs face each other in the tournament’s opening game at noon in Tolka Park, while the standout other game of the day is in Longford where England take on a France side likely to include Zinedine Zidane’s son Theo.

In what is probably an unprecedented move, meanwhile, John Delaney is to have no official role in the tournament, it has been confirmed, despite still sitting on Uefa’s Executive Committee and chairing its Youth Football Committee.

Fixtures: Czech Republic v Belgium (Tolka Park, 12.0); Netherlands v Sweden (RSC Waterford, 5.0), England v France (City Calling Stadium, Longford, 7.0), Republic of Ireland v Greece (Tallaght, 7.0).

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