Monday 16 September 2019

Crucial U21 Euro qualifier behind McCarthy's reluctance to call up young stars for Bulgaria friendly

Ireland manager Mick McCarthy is pictured today during a press conference at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Ireland manager Mick McCarthy is pictured today during a press conference at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The importance of the Irish U-21 side's European qualifier with Sweden tomorrow is what stopped Mick McCarthy from calling in members of Stephen Kenny's squad for the Aviva Stadium friendly with Bulgaria.

McCarthy went to watch Kenny's side impress against Armenia on Friday and was particularly taken by the performances of Brighton duo Aaron Connolly and Jayson Molumby.

He said that he would have looked to draft a couple of the young guns into his plans for the Bulgaria match if the U-21 team were only playing a friendly tomorrow.

However, Kenny's charges are playing for points away to Sweden and McCarthy felt that the competitive match should take precedence. He was also sceptical about how much he could learn from a friendly with Bulgaria with a view to the competitive tests coming down the tracks.

"Have they got a qualifier tomorrow? Why on earth would I call them up? It would be wrong of me. They want to qualify for a competition," said McCarthy, when asked about the buzz around the U-21 team.

"I was extremely impressed, certainly by Connolly, he was the pick of the bunch. Molumby as well. And having a soft spot for centre halves, I liked both of them (Dara O'Shea & Conor Masterson), they can both play up and pass the ball. Connolly was the one that caught the eye.

"I'm not sure if a friendly v Bulgaria will tell me if they compete against Georgia away or Switzerland away or Denmark at home. I'm not sure if it will tell me more than a competitive game v Sweden.

McCarthy suggested that the youths would be hard pressed to force a way into  his squad, even if they do star at their clubs in the intervening period. Connolly made his Premier League debut for Brighton on August 31, while Molumby is on loan at Millwall.

Troy Parrott could also play first team football for Spurs before October.

"I hope they give me that dilemma," said McCarthy, "But I keep going back to it. That I'm not sure they (October matches) are games for debutants. If I did do that and they didn't well, that question would be asked."

Online Editors

The Throw-In: Selection dilemma for Dublin and All-Ireland ladies football final preview

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Also in Sport