Newtowncunningham’s Ronan McKinley is named in the Republic of Ireland U17 squad for the UEFA European U17 Championships, which begin this Friday.
Derry City midfielder McKinley has been a regular on Irish squads over the last couple of years and has again been selected by Colin O’Brien, the Ireland manager.
It has been a long wait for the Ireland players and staff for this tournament to roll around as they were not part of qualifying due to being hosts. Now, they can finally focus on the games as they will take on Greece, Czech Republic and Belgium in Group A.
O’Brien has used the past year to prepare his players with international games against Turkey, England, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Belgium, and Finland – including a mini tournament that saw them play in Tallaght Stadium and RSC, Waterford, where they will feature in their three tournament openers.
“I can’t stress it enough to the public, this really is the biggest competition that they can play in,” said O’Brien.
“It’s the best of the best in Europe coming to Ireland – there is going to be some serious quality on the doorstep and we have some quality in our team as well.
“Even for our own development, to play in front of an Irish crowd, getting behind the team, we know how well our supporters get behind our teams, and we really need that. We will need that 12th man, because tournament football is demanding, you have three games in seven days.
“Every bit of support we can get, whether it is in Tallaght or coming down to the RSC, come out and support us.”
A decision will be made on the final player to complete the squad with O’Brien still in talks with Tottenham Hotspur over the possibility of playmaker Troy Parrott being involved.
Seamas Keogh from Sligo, a former student at Colaiste Cholmcille in Ballyshannon, who is now at Southampton, is also in the panel.
Republic of Ireland Under-17 Squad
Goalkeepers: Gavin Bazunu (Manchester City), Jimmy Corcoran (Preston North End), Harry Halwax (Derby County)
Defenders: Sean McEvoy (Ballinmallard United), Anselmo Garcia McNulty (Real Betis), Luke Turner (Aberdeen), Andrew Omobamidele (Norwich City), Timi Sobowale (Manchester City), James Furlong (Shamrock Rovers)
Midfielders: Charlie McCann (Manchester United), Joe Hodge (Manchester City), Brandon Holt (St Patrick’s Athletic), Seamas Keogh (Southampton), Ronan McKinley (Derry City), Sean Kennedy (Sunderland), Festy Ebsoele (Derby County)
Forwards: Matt Everitt (Brighton & Hove Albion), Conor Carty (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Joshua Giurgi (Norwich City)