IRELAND U15 Coach Niall Harrison has announced his U15 Squad for the forthcoming matches against the Aspire Academy in Qatar and it is fantastic to see that it includes the hugely talented Jesse Stafford Leacy. These are the first fixtures for the players, who were born in 1998, in the international structure.
"We've worked with the players since bringing them together for the first time in the summer then had further trials and get-togethers in September," explained Harrison.
"This is the first experience for them as an international team and I'm sure they are all excited about the opportunity and looking forward to representing their country. There are a lot of players being constantly monitored at this age group and for those unfortunate enough not to have made the squad for these games there'll be further opportunities in the New Year. It is pleasing to note that some new clubs are represented in international football including Lucan United, Corduff and BT Harps. The clubs will all be extremely proud of their players and rightly so." Greece THE important thing about friendly matches is not the result, sometimes it's not even the performance but it's always about seeing options or alternatives.
The result against Greece went against us, the performance overall was pretty ok for me, but the options and alternatives throw up were a huge bonus. Seamus Coleman has definitely nailed down the right back position; he is not the finished article just yet, but what a future he has in front of him at club and international level. He was a thorn in the side of the Greeks all night and his link up play with Robbie Brady in the opening half was very encouraging.
Brady has huge potential and regular football is all he needs to propel him on to the next level. He showed great touches during the time he was on the pitch, but like Coleman he needs more experience and I would expect him to be really on his game by the time the friendly against Poland comes around. Regular readers of this column will know that I am a big fan of Ciaran Clarke; I thought he had a good game and again he is a player that has a long international career ahead of him.
Throw in James McCarthy, James McClean (both of whom were a bit off the pace against Greece) and Shane Long ( who scored again at the weekend) and the future is a lot brighter than many people think. Wes Hoolahan showed in the second half that he is a real option if we need to switch from 4-4-2 to 4-4-1-1 playing in the "hole" between midfield and a lone striker. He was always looking for the ball and has a very attacking outlook, he had a great game again at the weekend against Man United in the league and I would like to see him play the full 90 minutes against Poland.
Footnote: Castleisland FC provided the ball boys/girls at the game, a just reward for the fact that the club have been huge supporters of the international team with George O'Callaghan always brining a large group of players to every home game. James Nolan PRIOR to kick off, UEFA President Michel Platini presented the Euro 2012 Fans Award to the family of James Nolan with the Euro 2012 Fans Award after the FAI and the Irish fans had decided that the award should be dedicated to the memory of the Irish fan who tragically lost his life in a drowning accident during the tournament. James father Jimmy, his mother Essie, sister Susie and brother Andrew joined the UEFA President on the pitch for the presentation which received a standing ovation from both sets of players and the spectators.
Writing in the match programme, FAI Chief Executive John Delaney said:
"Football is a game we all cherish and pour our emotions into but we must always put things into perspective and the memory of James Nolan reminds us of what really is most important in life."