Friday 17 January 2020

Kevin Moran: 'Ireland now have four top attacking prospects - but they must focus on one thing to reach the top'

Adam Idah's first Premier League start ended in a 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford. REUTERS/Jon Super
Adam Idah's first Premier League start ended in a 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford. REUTERS/Jon Super

Kevin Moran

It is absolutely brilliant that four Irish teenage strikers, Troy Parrott, Aaron Connolly, Michael Obafemi and last week’s shining star, Adam Idah, have played first-team football this season.

That they were given the chance by four different teams means that the managers and coaches at their clubs all rate these lads and see a big future for them.

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But for now, those lads must simply just get their head down and think just one thought – football, football, football.

Your manager has told you that you are a good player, now go ahead and work at it – and become a great player.

For that to happen, the lads, and our other good young footballers, need the best advice from their coaches, their families and their agents.

All of them must ram it home to these lads to concentrate on the game, on improving, on listening, on learning tactics and improving their fitness.

And not worry about cars, nor watches, nor nightlife, just aim everything at being the very best young footballer you can be.

It’s a simple fact of life that these lads have more money in their pocket, at the same stage of their career, than Robbie Keane or Damien Duff had two decades ago.

And in turn, Robbie and Damien had more money than players of my time two decades before that again.

It’s the way of the world and we just have to accept it.

But it must be hammered home to these players that huge riches, way in advance of the money they have now, are coming their way if they just stick to the football and give it 100% commitment.

You’d love to think that all four of these lads would make it, giving themselves a great career, and Ireland huge striking options for the next 15 years.

Given the way English clubs now source players from all over the world, you would have to fear that only two of them may go on to have that stellar career. You’d hope a third would.

If all four of them come through, and become established Premier League players, then Stephen Kenny, and indeed whoever succeeds him, is going to have fun managing the Irish team from now to 2035.

Will any of these lads be of use to Mick McCarthy for the Euro 2020 play-off in Slovakia in March?

Right now, realistically, no. Neither that one, nor a possible second play-off game against Bosnia or Northern Ireland, is a game in which to ask young lads to save you.

But if any of these lads continue to be picked for their clubs and continue to score great goals, as Idah and Obafemi have done in recent weeks, well then all bets are off.

And they are off in the case of Parrott too if Jose Mourinho relents and decides to put the Dubliner into the Spurs’ first-team during Harry Kane’s injury absence.

Irish football fans have been starved of a goalscorer ever since Robbie retired a few years ago.

It has been the bane of our national football team, we simply cannot score goals.

We can neither create a chance nor finish it, too many of our goals of late have come from set-pieces.

When you get to that place, teams simply do not offer up the free-kicks you want.

Note how few free-kicks Denmark gave away 20 or 25 yards out from their own goal in our November Euro 2020 qualifier at the Aviva. They simply choked off our possible supply of set-pieces.

And then, when you are struggling, suddenly four exciting young lads come out of nowhere – well, almost.

Let them be the answer someday, but let us not rush these lads either.

All we want is for them to get the best advice and the best training in their careers as they rack up the years. And that they heed that advice.

Then Irish football can have a really bright future.

Finally, could I just close by saying that I am delighted by the FAI’s appointment of three independent directors last week.

The three people joining the FAI board – Roy Barrett, Catherine Guy and Liz Joyce – have superb CVs in Irish business life and will definitely bring plenty of wise counsel to the meetings.

I know Catherine personally and I’m sure she will be a huge asset to the FAI over the next few years.

We look forward to the identity of the fourth and final Independent director being revealed in the next couple of weeks.

Maybe, in time, we will look back at last Wednesday’s announcement of their coming on board as the day the FAI turned the corner.

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