Monday 22 July 2019

Mohan upbeat despite Ireland U-19s missing key players

Mohan: Depleted squad. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Mohan: Depleted squad. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Even before they tackle the heat of Armenia and face the best nations in Europe, Ireland's Under-19s have made the trip without their key players.

Tom Mohan's side overcame adversity already this season by topping their elite phase group despite Stephen Kenny taking four first-choice cadets into his U-21s but the manager admits this learning curve is far steeper.

The promotion of 11 players to their first teams at club level, coupled with Will Ferry's injury, has robbed him of a dozen players, the majority guaranteed starters.

Just a few days out from Monday's group opener against Norway, the northerner wasn't dwelling on the absence of firepower in the form of Troy Parrott, Michael Obafemi and Adam Idah.

He's brought 20 players to Yerevan confident they can make an impact at the first finals Ireland have qualified for since 2011.

Manchester United's Lee O'Connor, one of Kenny's U-21 mainstays, has travelled and will captain the side. Ireland will also meet France and Czech Republic in their group.

"It is the nature of international football that you have to react to setbacks in a very short time period to get results," said the former Derry City player, who believes FIFA should add the tournament to the calendar for which clubs must release players.

"We did just that in our elite round of qualifiers after losing a lot of players. Others came in and the players raised their level of performance, achieving what we set out to do, which was to reach these finals."

These rather unprecedented circumstances mean Mohan will be complementing the best available players at this age-group with a sprinkling of U-17 and U-18 graduates. Three newcomers from the U-17 squad, Andrew Omobamidele, Joe Hodge and Matt Everitt, have all got the nod.

Another player at that 2002-born age-group, James Furlong, yesterday completed his move to Brighton and Hove Albion. His last club, Shamrock Rovers, will receive around €110,000 in compensation for training and development under FIFA statutes.

Irish Independent

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