Shamrock Rovers have confirmed that four of its U19 team have signed professional terms, with Sean Boyd, Aaron Dobbs, James Doona and Shane Hanney all putting pen to paper at Tallaght Stadium.
The move comes in the wake of another Hoops U19 graduate, Sean Heaney, establishing himself as a first-choice centre-back towards the end of Pat Fenlon's reign in charge after spells in the First Division with Rovers' B team in 2014 and Shelbourne on loan last season.
Heaney has started Rovers' last six games in all competitions, including both legs of the Europa League defeat to Finnish side RoPS Rovaniemi, having featured in the EA Sports Cup earlier in the season – and this will serve as a boost to the four teenagers seeking to stake a claim as first-team regulars.
Three of the four have already featured for Rovers off the bench this season, including Sean Boyd who has three league substitute appearances to his name having made his Premier Division debut in the 3-0 win over Sligo Rovers in May.
The 18 year old striker was the Hoops' top scorer as they finished fifth in the U19 Southern Elite Division in 2014/15. Boyd, from Malahide, recently won two caps for the Republic of Ireland U18s against Hungary and Sweden.
James Doona, tipped as possibly the next Gary McCabe in the club's statement announcing the signing of the four players, signed from St. Patrick's Athletic in 2015 and, like Boyd, has been capped by the Republic of Ireland at youth level.
He can play all across the midfield and at left-back if needed. The 18 year old made his first league appearance of the season in the dying minutes of the 1-1 draw with Finn Harps at the end of May – ironically, a game in which McCabe was sent off.
Wexford native Aaron Dobbs has already scored for Rovers' first-team, netting against Dundalk in last season's Leinster Senior Cup final at Oriel Park. Unfortunately for the 17 year old, it wasn't enough to stop the Lilywhites from running out 3-1 winners.
However, the boy who skippered the Hoops to victory in the inaugural SSE Airtricity U17 League – and scored 15 times along the way – looks ready to mix it with the first-team regularly having made his league debut off the bench in the 2-0 win over St. Patrick's Athletic at Richmond Park in June.
Shane Hanney is the last of the players to have signed professional terms and he is also the only one yet to make his league debut this season. However, he has scored more first-team goals for Rovers than the other three combined having netted twice in a 3-1 win over Athlone Town during last season's Leinster Senior Cup run.
Having signed for the club from Templeogue United as a centre-back/right-back originally, Hanney has become more of a goalscoring midfielder during his time at Tallaght. Though injuries have hampered his chances of making a first-team breakthrough this season, the 18 year old Republic of Ireland youth international should get his chance before long.