Meet the Ireland under-21 squad for the Toulon Tournament

Mon, Jun 03 2019

Ireland under-21 boss Stephen Kenny Credit: Eddie Lennon (ETPhotos)

Stephen Kenny takes charge of the Republic of Ireland at a tournament for the first time this week as his Under 21 charges compete at the Toulon Tournament- an invitational competition which will see nations of different age groups including Under 18s (France), Under 20s (England) and Under 21s (Republic of Ireland) will compete. The Republic are in a group with the Under 23 squads of Mexico, Bahrain and China- against whom they play today at 2.30pm.

GOALKEEPERS

Conor Kearns- The former Templeogue United youngster shot to fame for scoring a last-minute bicycle kick against Cork City in an Under 19 league game a few years back. Since 2017, and the departure of Niall Corbett, Kearns has made the UCD number 1 spot his own. He earned promotion with The Students in 2018 before being called up to Stephen Kenny’s home based Under 21 squad at the beginning of the 2019 season. Has previously represented the Irish Colleges and Universities side in the 2017 World University Games.

Caoimhin Kelleher- Liverpool’s third choice goalkeeper was originally with Ringmahon Rangers before signing for the Anfield giants as a teenager. Much has been written about the promising stopper, who has represented the ‘Merseysiders’ in friendly competitions, including at the Aviva Stadium last season. He won the Champions League at the weekend, joining a list of Corkonians including Denis Irwin and Roy Keane to have achieved this honour.

DEFENDERS

Darragh Leahy- The Bohemians left back had been a revelation since returning to the league following a spell at Coventry City. The former St Kevin’s Boys player is one of several who left the club to sign for an English outfit before returning to Dublin and signing for The Gypsies.

Conor Masterson- Another Dubliner in the squad. Former Lucan United star Masterson is to be released by Liverpool at the end of the 2018/19 season and will have no shortage of suitors. A ball playing centre half, who excelled in Kenny’s first qualifying game against Luxembourg at Tallaght Stadium.

Dara O'Shea- The 20-year-old centre half spent time on loan at Exeter City this season in order to build up his game experience. His season in League One should see the Dubliner operate at a higher-level next season, either with his parent club West Brom or further up the ladder.

Liam Scales- Another centre back of the ball playing variety. The left footed defender has recently represented Ireland at Universities level while carving out a reputation as one of the best young defenders in the Premier Division, despite a challenging season with UCD so far.

Lee O'Connor- The Waterford native is currently plying his trade at Manchester United and played at right back for the Under 21s in Tallaght Stadium against Luxembourg, having been drafted up from the U19 squad for which he is still eligible. His brother, Aaron, is a former Waterford midfielder who once scored a screamer at Oriel Park in a friendly.

Tyreke Wilson- 19-year-old highly rated Manchester City defender who has battled back from a knee injury to regain his place at left back for the City Premier League 2 side. He signed for the Premier League champions as a 15-year-old from Cherry Orchard FC while his brother, John Ross Wilson, is currently at Shelbourne after a successful underage career with Bohemians.

Canice Carroll- Brentford’s versatile former Oxford United Academy product has represented the Republic of Ireland at Under 17, Under 18 and Under 19 level. He finished the 2018/19 season on loan at Swindon Town in a squad which included former Waterford loanee Lawrence Vigoroux while the Munster side contains Scott Twine, who is currently on loan from the Robins.

MIDFIELDERS

Conor Coventry- The West Ham midfielder played a crucial role in the U19 side’s successful 2018 and is still eligible for the upcoming Under 19 European Championships. After signing his first professional deal with the Hammers in May 2018, he went on to make his senior debut last September in the EFL Cup while his U23 debut in February 2017 saw him net a fantastic goal.

Josh Barrett- The Reading midfielder was part of the Under 17 squad which competed in the 2015 European Championships and will turn 21 later this month.  With parents from Dublin and Tipperary, the attacking minded player has also played GAA earlier in youth, representing Hampshire. Having started for Reading in their season ending fixture against Birmingham, he was replaced by John O'Shea in the closing moments- the Waterford native's cameo being his final professional appearance before retirement.

Stephen Mallon- Twenty-year-old Stephen Mallon spent the end of the season at Australian side Central Coast Mariners on loan from Sheffield United. The left sided utility player has represented both Northern Ireland and the Republic at underage level, committing to the ROI after 13 NI appearances.

Jason Knight- The former Cabinteely youngster is currently on the books of Derby County and was recently   up to the Derby County bench by Frank Lampard for Play Off games against Leeds United and Aston Villa. His brother, Kevin, is now playing with Longford Town and is a former ROI Under 17 and Under 19 international while Jason is another currently eligible for Under 19 selection.

Jayson Molumby- The Brighton youngster is just returning to action following a serious knee injury. He has captained his country at U17 level and hails from Cappoquin Co Waterford. He’s had two major knee injury to date which have stalled his progress at the Amex somewhat.

Connor Ronan- The Wolves man spent the season on loan in the Slovakian league where he chalked up valuable playing time and earned plaudits for his ability. The Dubliner played in an attacking midfield role in Tallaght's Luxembourg encounter and is regarded as a very promising talent for the future.

Zach Elbouzedi- Having returned to Ireland following spells with West Brom and Inverness, the right winger signed for Alan Reynolds' Waterford at the start of the 2019 season and has been gathering positives ever since. He turned 21 in April and has Libyan roots.

Simon Power- Another who has signed up with an English club but played soccer this season on mainland Europe. The ex UCD player was on loan at FC Dordrecht and, similar to Ronan, experienced a greater degree of game time than he would have been expecting if he stayed at parent club Norwich City.

Jack Taylor- The ex-Chelsea Academy and current Barnet midfielder will experience an important month as he is in his first ever Ireland squad and turns 21 later in the month. Having played almost 30 first team games in the Conference Premier this season, adding to his 38 last season in League Two, he adapted to international football well by scoring a brace in a closed doors friendly against the ROI senior team last week.

Jamie Lennon- The St Patrick’s Athletic midfielder actually began his League of Ireland career on the books of Shelbourne Under 17s before making the cross city move to Richmond Park. He was captain for DCU when they won their first ever Harding Cup in 2017. Lennon is currently occupying an important role for The Super Saints anchoring their midfield and, unlike a number of the squad, experienced international football for the first time under Stephen Kenny when debuting against Luxembourg.

FORWARDS

Adam Idah- Corkman Idah is currently at Premier League newcomers Norwich City and scored twice for Stephen Kenny's Under 21 side in their first competitive game, his own debut at the level. A strong, mobile striker who is eligible to represent Ireland in the U19s European Championships this summer but is unlikely to be released by his club twice.

Aaron Drinan- Another striker who has found the net regularly of late. The ex Cork City underage star is currently in his second spell at Waterford, this time on loan from Ipswich Town. Having started out with the Cobh Ramblers U19s, he has gone on to score in the European Youth League against both HJK and Roma, during Cork City's great run in 2017.

Aaron Connolly- Former Mervue Utd hotshot Connolly is another who, in another time, may be representing the U19s at their Championships in Armenia this summer. 2018/19 has been a frustrating yet ultimately successful season for the Brighton striker as he claimed the Premier League 2 Player of the Year Award, ahead of compatriot Adam Idah-, as well as a successful loan spell at Luton Town as they earned promotion, though he missed a large chunk of the loan spell through an injury.