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It's not all doom and gloom, we do have young talent

Horgan admits Wales loss leaves Ireland needing wins to qualify

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NEXT STEP: Ireland players l-r Shaun Williams, Matt Doherty, Daryl Horgan, Darren Randolph, Colin Doyle and Caoimhín Kelleher at a training session. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

NEXT STEP: Ireland players l-r Shaun Williams, Matt Doherty, Daryl Horgan, Darren Randolph, Colin Doyle and Caoimhín Kelleher at a training session. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

NEXT STEP: Ireland players l-r Shaun Williams, Matt Doherty, Daryl Horgan, Darren Randolph, Colin Doyle and Caoimhín Kelleher at a training session. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Daryl Horgan is still finding his feet at international level and has only just made his competitive debut for the senior team.

But the Galway-born midfielder has enough about him to speak up when he feels the need, and Horgan has come out strongly against what he calls the "doom and gloom" hanging over the Irish set-up right now.

The age profile of the national team has been a cause for concern for some time, particularly since Euro 2012 when Ireland had the oldest team at the competition.

Horgan was 26 and Enda Stevens was 28 when they played in their first competitive games, in Wales last week, while Alan Judge was 29 when he netted his first international goal.

The decision to promote Portsmouth forward Ronan Curtis from the U21 squad for tomorrow's game in Poland does bring down the age profile, but overall the feeling is that this is an old side with little sign of young talent on the horizon.

Cameo

Horgan knows first-hand that success does not always fall into the lap of young players - despite impressive form in the League of Ireland, his only exposure to U21 international football was a five-minute cameo as a sub in a friendly away to Denmark, while he was a Cork City player.

He also has a personal eye on the conveyor belt of talent as his brothers Colm (Cork City, aged 24), Kevin (Shamrock Rovers, aged 21) and Chris (Galway United, 18) are making their way in the domestic league.

But Daryl feels the constant reminders of the lack of young talent in Ireland, in contrast to that of Wales, is not helpful.

"Our 21s are doing well at the minute. OK, Ethan Ampadu coming through (with Wales) looks like an unbelievable player but we have some good young players definitely," says the Hibernian player.

"Everything about the future being bleak, I don't think so.

"Look at how the Ireland U17s did, the team that won it (Holland in the European Championship finals) beat Ireland in a dodgy penalty shootout. They played very, very well and looked very strong, they've a lot of good players with a lot of quality so it's not all doom and gloom.

"We've a lot of good players in the 21s doing well, Ronan Curtis is banging in the goals. It was bad result against Wales but we shouldn't say there's no quality coming through because there is."

The Wales game last week was a big moment for Horgan as he

won his first competitive cap but the result was one to forget and he admits that he may only be able to really reflect in the future, not now.

"We were very disappointed with the result, it wasn't what we wanted by any stretch of the imagination. The fact that it was my competitive debut gets put to side because we went in going to get a result and we didn't do ourselves justice. Maybe down the line I will look at it but just now everyone is disappointed.

"Sometimes football doesn't go your way. They played very, very well and they have that bit of class with Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey and they utilise that for Bale's goal.

"There is not many in the world who can do that and if you do that have that in your squad, brilliant. For ourselves, we're not happy with how it went. We didn't play well enough, they were very good and put us to the sword.

"It's not good to concede at any time but the early goal gives them a leg up, it gets the crowd going and allows their young players to play full of confidence so it doesn't help but there was still time to get into them."

There's now a one-month break to the next tests in the Nations League, at home to Wales and Denmark, with tomorrow's trip to Poland a chance for O'Neill to cast his eye over other players, but Horgan is already looking ahead to the October qualifiers.

"It was a bad start to the Nations League for us but we still have three more games to play and two friendlies in that time," he says.

"We'll try and win as much as we can. The minimum we can aim for is second, that's the priority. Hopefully we pick up the next couple of results and who knows what might happen.

"They are two good sides but this group is definitely not dead and buried.

"The opportunity is there for other players to do well tomorrow. Every game for your country is a massive game and anyone who gets that opportunity, whether or not they've played on Thursday, have to stake a claim to put their name forward. Hopefully I'll get that opportunity to play and do well."

Horgan was one of the squad members who changed clubs over the summer, and one of the reasons he left Preston, where he was a peripheral figure, was a warning from Martin O'Neill that his place in the squad would be in jeopardy if he was not getting first team football.

Moving to Scotland was a risk - since the late Liam Miller played against Montenegro in 2009, no SPL player, bar those at Celtic, was capped in a competitive game by Ireland.

"I spoke to Martin about that. I said 'I might have to move to the SPL or the way it was looking maybe League One'. But he said the priority for me was to play," says Horgan.

"He said he was going to Preston for games and I was not even in the squad so he was coming back and had no idea how or what I was doing because he hadn't me.

"At least if I was playing games, wherever it is, he would know. He said that was the priority for me. And for my own head, not my self-worth, but just that feeling of being involved and part of a team or squad.

"I didn't really feel part of it last year, coming into training, doing everything I possibly can and you don't feel you're making an impact on the season.

"It's tough, everyone wants to play well but I know everyone can't," he added.


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