No doubt you’ll have your eyes fixed firmly on the summer, as it will soon be time for Euro 2020. Before that, though, there’s the matter of qualifying for the tournament. Mick McCarty’s team have the daunting play offs to face first. No matter what happens, however, Mick’s reign as manager will end in August, when he is replaced by Stephen Kenny. If you’re a fan and think McCarthy can pull off an unlikely qualification it might be worth placing a cheeky bet through Betfree.ie on Mick’s men. With Kenny he will be building for the future and there are many Irish youngsters set to shine this year. Here’s a look at the young, up and coming potential stars of Irish football.
Luca Connell – At just 18 years of age, this midfielder is turning heads for all of the right reasons. Luca currently plays for Celtic. Whilst at Bolton he caught the eye of many clubs last season, and his end of season performances earned him a call up by McCarthy . A Summer move to Celtic hasn’t quite turned into 1st team football although injuries haven’t helped but once fit, he again has been impressing massively in the reserves. Luca will almost certainly be back in the first team next season.
Gavin Bazumu – The second youngster on our list has seemingly been in the limelight for years, despite the fact that he is not yet legally old enough to buy a pint of Guinness. 17-year old Gavin is a product of the Shamrock Rovers Academy. The goalkeeper is currently signed to Manchester City and he has been on the bench for Pep’s men a couple of times, and has featured in Ireland’s Under-21s for Stephen Kenny. He is a highly proficient goalkeeper who is still many years away from his prime.
Conor Coventry – 19-year old West Ham United midfielder Conor Coventry is one of the most exciting prospects in Irish football. Conor is the captain of West Ham’s under 23 squad and has even made several appearances for the London club’s first team. He is really showing his maturity on the pitch, despite being so young. He’s been at West Ham since he was ten years of age, there are rumours that he could be moving on soon, if he does decide to leave, there will be plenty of offers.
Lee O’Connor – Lee O’Connor is currently a defender for Celtic. He recently made history as he actually made his international debut for the senior squad against New Zealand (providing an assist for Callum Robinson as well in the 3-1 victory) before he had played for the first team at Celtic. O’Connor is a typical defender and is not afraid to get stuck in, he puts getting the ball above his own health and wellbeing, and has an excellent delivery of crosses.
Timi Sobowale – Timi Sobowale is not yet 18 years old, and he is already making waves in the Manchester City youth squad. He signed for City back in the summer of 2018, and has quickly proved himself to be an extremely capable defender. Recently he had a loan spell at Blackburn Rovers, which has raised his profile higher again with some solid performances. One thing that has impressed about Timi, is the fact that he is so versatile, as on the backline, he can play in a variety of different positions very comfortably, which is the Guardiola and Man City way.
Adam Idah – Adam Idah is the next player on our list today, and he also happens to be the first forward. Currently signed to Norwich, 18-year old Adam Idah, with the guidance of Stephen Kenny and the other backroom staff, has progressed at an astonishing rate. His hat trick in the FA Cup recently against Preston North End saw a Premier League debut the following week. Expect to see big things from Adam over the next few months, as well as more goals!
Aaron Connolly – Finally, we have another striker, this time it’s 19-year old Aaron Connolly. Aaron plays for Brighton and Hove Albion, and has had a fantastic few months. The Galway youngster has proved that he has what it takes with two fine debut goals against Tottenham Hotspur last year. He has had a lot of starts and subs appearances for Brighton but no more goals have come yet, despite good performances from Connolly. Will McCarthy take a risk and start him in the game against Slovakia? This is the big question on most Ireland fans minds for next month’s crucial match. He will soon be turning 20, and such is the dearth of striking talent available to McCarthy, Connolly is seen as a player that could make the difference in qualifying for Euro 2020. He certainly looks like one player who will be a regular for Ireland for years to come.
Troy Parrott – We will skip on Parrott as everyone knows it’s just a matter of time before the Tottenham Hotspur player becomes a star of the Premier League.
Words: Enda O’Reilly