Republic of Ireland Under-17s ready to face Europe’s elite
Manager Tom Mohan confident his side can mix it with the best
Manager Tom Mohan: “The Dutch are first up and that’s all I’m thinking of.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Arsenal midfielder Marcus Agyei-Tabi is one of four players added by manager Tom Mohan to his squad for next week’s European under-17 Championships in Bulgaria where Ireland will take on England, Italy and the Netherlands in the group stages.
“We’ve watched Marcus over the course of the season,” said Mohan, “but then he came in last week for a training camp, played against Shamrock Rovers’ under-19s and showed up well for us.”
The 16-year-old is a well regarded and versatile player who can play out wide, in the centre or in the number 10 role and he is joined in the squad by Anthony Scully who, having previously represented both England and Ireland in friendly games, will be in contention to make his competitive debut.
Shelbourne goalkeeper David Craddock comes in for the injured Thomas McDermott of Spurs while James Gray of St Kevin’s Boys is also added to the group that qualified from the Elite Group stage in Poland.
“It’s unfortunate but we were without three of the four in the Elite phase so we just have to get on with it,” said Mohan, “and it will be a challenge for the rest of the lads.
“It’s a great tournament and it’s important that the players enjoy the experience, they’re good players and it’s an opportunity to play against other good players. In terms of expectations, though, it’s important that we don’t get carried away. We want to be competitive . . ”
The Irish play the Dutch next Thursday followed by Italy on the Sunday and England the following Wednesday with the top two progressing to the quarter-finals. The four losers will play-off for the last two of six European places at the World Cup in Chile this October.
“We’ve a lot of attacking players in this group, some really good individuals, they’re a brilliant group of young fellows,” said Mohan. “But the Dutch and English have both been very successful at this level, the English have won a couple of titles over the last few years . . .
“The Dutch are first up and that’s all I’m thinking of. (FAI technical director) Ruud Dokter will be a lot of help for that one.”
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND SQUAD (for the Uefa Under-17 Championships finals in Bulgaria next month): Kelleher (Ringmahon Rangers); Craddock (Shelbourne); Wade-Slater (St Kevin’s Boys); O’Keeffe (Birmingham City); Masterson (Liverpool); Hanney (Shamrock Rovers); Leahy (Coventry City); Lunney (Preston NE); McCourt (West Brom); Ronan (Wolves); Agyei-Tabi (Arsenal); Scully (West Ham Utd); Levingston (Wolves); Elbouzedi (West Brom); Aherne (Lucan Utd); Clarke (St Kevin’s Boys); Barrett (Reading); Gray (St Kevin’s Boys). Republic of Ireland Group D fixtures – May 7th: v Netherlands; May 10th: v Italy; May 13th: v England.