Bulls star Meara opts for Ireland

THE FAI are celebrating a major recruitment coup after American-based goalkeeper Ryan Meara - a team-mate of Thierry Henry - declared for the Republic.

Ireland U21 coach Noel King has been tracking the 21-year-old for some time but in the last 24 hours it was confirmed that Meara, who plays in the MSL for New York Red Bulls, said he was happy to accept an invitation to join the Irish squad, and he'll train with the team for the first time when the U21s play Denmark later this month, a warm-up game for June's Euro qualifier at home to Italy.

And Meara will get an early indication of what's involved with the Irish set-up as he's due to play for Red Bulls against Robbie Keane's LA Galaxy in the MLS next Saturday.

"Ryan is playing at a very high level in the US, he's playing with and against some great players and it's great for us to have a player of that calibre on board," said King.

"He's delighted with the call-up. His club are happy for him to get international recognition and all going well, he'll come in and train with us for the friendly with Denmark in a few weeks and he could be in the squad for the Italy game as well."

Crumlin to battle Pats

CRUMLIN UNITED will make another FAI Cup giant-killing attempt when they take on St Patrick's Athletic next month.

Last night's draw for the FAI Cup second round threw up some intriguing ties, with Limerick boss Pat Scully facing former club Shamrock Rovers, a local derby between Derry City and Finn Harps, and a test for in-form Longford Town at Cherry Orchard. Avondale United face a 1000km round-trip to play Donegal outfit Kildrum Tigers.

FAI CUP second round draw

Cherry Orchard v Longford Town; Drogheda United v Mayfield United; SD Galway v Mervue United; UCD v Phoenix FC; Shamrock Rovers v Limerick FC; Kildrum Tigers v Avondale United; Cork City v Athlone Town; Sligo Rovers v Monaghan United; Blarney United v Malahide United; Everton v Waterford United; Dundalk v St Patrick's CY; Bray Wanderers v Shelbourne; Crumlin United v St Patrick's Athletic; Derry City v Finn Harps; Bohemians v Drumkeen United; Douglas Hall v Wexford Youths.

*Ties to be played weekend of May 27th