Stephen Kenny names his first Ireland under-21 squad
New manager has big ambitions for the team as they compete in Toulon tournament
Republic of Ireland under-21 manager Stephen Kenny speaks to the media. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Stephen Kenny says this can be a big year for the development of the country’s best young players after confirming that his under-21 side will play at the prestigious Toulon tournament at the start of the summer as well as getting through the best part of a European Championship qualification campaign.
“That involves seven games this year plus the Toulon tournament,” says the Dubliner who has named a squad of locally based players for a training camp at the start of February, “that’s 11 scheduled games so it’s a brilliant opportunity for the players in terms of their development.”
Bohemians have four players – Andy Lyons, Darragh Leahy, Dan Mandriou and Robbie McCourt – in the squad while Shamrock Rovers and UCD have three apiece.
UCD will be hit by the fact that the camp, which will include a game against the Irish Amateurs on Wednesday, the 6th of February, clashes with the Collingwood Cup while DCU will also lose Jamie Lennon for the week-long tournament which takes place this year in Limerick.
Kenny will use the week to weigh up which of the players playing with Irish clubs have the potential to play a part in the qualifying games but says that even those with some experience of international football will find the newer age level a challenge.
“To play for Ireland, even at under-21 level is a huge honour, and it can be a big step up for the players who have played previously for under-17s and 19s because by this stage the Swedish clubs say have players who are playing in their league with the likes of Malmo and Gothenburg and likewise, the Italians, will have a few who are playing in Serie A already so it is a big step up.”
Ireland will face both Italy and Sweden as well as Iceland, Armenia and Luxembourg in their qualifying games.
Kenny, meanwhile, has named former international Keith Andrews and Jim Crawford as his assistants.
“I’m delighted with the overall backroom team,” he said. “They are very dynamic people; good, positive people. I’ve know Jim for quite a while. He’s been manager of the 18s in the last couple of years. Keith has also coached, at MK Dons, and he is also somebody who has a lot to offer, both of them have a lot to offer.”
Republic of Ireland under-21 training squad
Goalkeepers: Conor Kearns (UCD), Ross Treacy (Dundalk)
Defenders: Andy Lyons (Bohemians), Darragh Leahy (Bohemians), Conor McCarthy (Cork City), Trevor Clarke (Shamrock Rovers), Liam Scales (UCD), John Mahon (Sligo Rovers).
Midfielders: Dan Mandriou (Bohemians), Will Fitzgerald (Limerick), Aaron Bolger (Shamrock Rovers), JJ Lunney (Waterford), Jamie Lennon (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Brandon Kavanagh (Shamrock Rovers), Robbie McCourt (Bohemians).
Forwards: Ronan Hale (Crusaders), Neil Farrugia (UCD), Michael O’Connor (Linfield), Will Fitzgerald (Limerick), Zach Elbouzedi (Waterford), Karl O’Sullivan (Limerick).
Assistant Coaches: Keith Andrews, Jim Crawford; Strength and Conditioning Coach: Damien Doyle; Goalkeeping Coach: Dan Connor; Performance Analyst: Gary Seery; Physiotherapist: Kevin Mulholland; Team Doctor: Ronan Kearney.