Monday 20 November 2017

Drennan aims to fulfil Ireland ambition after tough Cats call

LEGEND has it that youngsters in Kilkenny grow up dreaming of playing in an All-Ireland hurling final but Mikey Drennan looked beyond Croke Park.

Offered a role in the Cats' minor team at the age of 16, Drennan instead accepted a contract from Aston Villa and hasn't looked back over the two years since.

Diarmuid Cody, son of Brian, was a team-mate of Drennan's at the James Stephens club, yet not even the legendary Kilkenny boss could stop the all-rounder from moving cross-channel.

Today, he leads Ireland's U-19s into their second UEFA qualifier in three days in Luxembourg, where a win over Macedonia at the Alphonse Theis stadium (4.0 Irish time) would earn a top-two finish in the group and qualification to the elite stage next May.

It was Drennan's hat-trick in the 5-2 win over hosts Luxembourg on Thursday that helped make today's contest a qualification clincher, with Tuesday's last game against top seeds Germany to come.

"Hurling is part of every kid's life in Kilkenny and I was no different," said the 18-year-old. "The hurl would come everywhere -- to training, school and even to bed.

"I was lucky to be decent at two sports and it was a hard decision. My choice was to try to make a living from soccer and, in fairness to Brian Cody, he wished me all the best. The dream is to play in the Premier League for Aston Villa and become a senior Ireland international.

"My Aston Villa team-mates Derrick Williams and Samir Carruthers went all the way to the U-19 finals with Ireland two years ago and that's what Jack Grealish, another Villa lad in the squad, and I want to achieve this season."

Irish Independent

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