Republic of Ireland U19 team coach Tom Mohan has admitted his relief after Belfast-born attacker Sean Moore, rated as one of the most exciting young players on the island of Ireland, has committed to the Republic’s cause and will make his competitive international debut next week as his side aim to reach the European Championship finals.
The Republic’s U17s have already secured a place in the Euro finals and the U19s take on Slovakia, Estonia and Greece in the Elite round of qualification, all games to be played in Wexford, with only one side from the four-team group advancing to the finals in Malta in July.
Mohan has named four Italian-based players in his squad and five from the League of Ireland but it’s the presence of Cliftonville man Moore which has excited a lot of fans.
Moore broke into the Reds first team last season but has been a regular this term as the Belfast side aim for the league title as Moore is tracked by a host of Premier League clubs.
Northern Ireland made strong efforts to get Moore – who had played for the North at U18 level in non-competitive games – to stay with them but the FAI won that battle.
“With Sean, there was no real problems, he was committed to coming,” says Mohan, who says he took Moore in at the first opportunity, his side on hiatus since September due to closed international windows.
"I was made aware about Sean, he was keen to come and we were keen to get him. He's done really well and I am looking forward to having him in camp. We finished up in September so the first opportunity I had to bring Sean in, I took him in.
"He was flying in the Irish League and has done well, Cliftonville are right up there at the top, he's scored key goals in big games, creating chances and has gone from strength to strength.
“Naturally, with a good player who is eligible for both countries, they (IFA) will try hard to get him but thankfully he has come across the line with us.
"There were no real problems, players go both ways, no one is breaking any rules, players from the Republic who played for us went to play for the North, we take players from the North, it works both ways, it's not just one-way traffic.
“He's a very good player, any young player that can play senior football, to go in and play at that level, perform against the teams he has performed against, it speaks volumes for him as a player and as a person too,” added Mohan.
Ireland play Slovakia (Wednesday, March 22), Estonia (Saturday, March 25) and Greece (Tuesday, March 28) knowing that only the table-toppers will join hosts Malta and six other sides at the finals.
Republic of Ireland Men’s Under-19s squad
Goalkeepers: Reece Byrne (Bohemians), Owen Mason (Kettering Town).
Defenders: James Abankwah (Udinese), Sam Curtis (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Sean Grehan (Crystal Palace), James Golding (Oxford United), Alex Murphy (Newcastle United), Harry Nevin (Preston North End), John Ryan (Sassulo).
Midfielders: Justin Ferizaj (Shamrock Rovers), Oisin Gallagher (Barwell), Ed McJannet (Lecce), James McManus (Bohemians), Harry Vaughan (Hull City), Rocco Vata (Celtic).
Forwards: Tommy Lonergan (St Patrick’s Athletic), Sean Moore (Cliftonville), Mark O’Mahony (Brighton), Franco Umeh (Crystal Palace), Kevin Zefi (Inter Milan)