Republic of Ireland under-15 head coach Jason Donohue has named a 20-man squad ahead of games against Australia, Spain, Netherlands and Czech Republic.
Donohue’s side will host Australia’s under 16s at the National Training Centre in Abbots next Saturday, January 18th before flying out to Murcia in Spain where they will participate in a three game tournament against Czech Republic, Netherlands and hosts Spain.
Shamrock Rovers are well represented as the Hoops boast eight players in the squad including defender Alex Malone who’s been called up for the first time.
There’s also room for Celtic man Rocco Vata and Malaga forward Caden McLoughlin both of whom will join up with the squad when they arrive in Murcia.
Shortly after the squad announcement, Donohue revealed how he whittled his squad down to just 20 players ahead of the upcoming fixtures.
“I got the top 34 players in last week and they played a game against each other which was really high quality. It was hard to pick a squad because of the high standards and the players who did well against England did well again.
“Alex Malone is a debutant who has played himself into the final squad with a fine performance and he’s one of a very good group who will play in these next four games,” Donohue explained to FAI.ie.
Donohue also explained that his side will be confident going into the games having gone unbeaten since April of last year.
“We played Spain last year and they were the best Under-15s team I have ever seen and I expect the same this year. We’ll be organised and we’ll go into the game confidentially as we’ve performed well against the opposition we’ve faced so far.
“Martijn Reuser, who is the Head Coach of the Dutch Under-15 team, said to me last year he would love to have the Irish DNA of the ‘fighting spirit’ in the Dutch teams.
“I think we’ve moved on, it’s not just fighting spirit, it’s quality football and if you look to our performance against England we started the game with 14 passes and the ball was in the back of the net. We can compete with The Netherlands by playing football.
“Czech Republic have invested in their underage teams and are getting them in more often for games. We played them last year in a double-header and we were lucky to win 1-0 in the first game and in the second game they beat us comfortably – they always have strength in depth. Make no mistake our players will be going out in each game to win it.”
Republic of Ireland squad:
Goalkeepers: Conor Walsh (Mayo SL), Shay O’Leary (Shamrock Rovers).
Defenders: Sam Curtis (Shamrock Rovers), Luke O’Brien (Shamrock Rovers), Alex Malone (Shamrock Rovers), Cathal Heffernan (Cork City), Trisden Hughes (Klub Kildare), Finn Cowper Gray (Klub Kildare) Daniel Kelly (Mayo SL).
Midfielders: Adam Murphy (St Patrick’s Athletic), Cian Barrett (Shamrock Rovers), Justin Ferizaj (Shamrock Rovers), James McManus (St Kevin’s Boys), Liam Murray (College Corinthians Cork SL), Joe O’Brien Whitmarsh (Cork City) Rocco Vata (Celtic) Alex Nolan (St Patrick’s Athletic).
Forwards: Caden McLoughlin (Malaga), Gideon Tetteh (Shamrock Rovers), Kevin Zefi (Shamrock Rovers), Adam Nugent (Mayo SL).
January 18 – Ireland v Australia, FAI NTC, Abbotstown, KO 1pm
January 30 – Spain v Ireland, Pinatar Arena, Murcia, Spain KO 12pm (Irish time)
February 1 – Ireland v The Netherlands, Pinatar Arena, Murcia, Spain, KO 3pm (Irish time)
February 3 – Ireland v Czech Republic, Pinatar Arena, Murcia, Spain KO 12pm (Irish time).