Every form of media outlet involved with Irish football is currently awash with the Michael Obafemi story. Manager Martin O’Neill stated at yesterday’s press conference that the eighteen year old Southampton striker would be considered for selection in the friendly encounter with Northern Ireland this evening but would not be involved in the competitive Denmark encounter on Monday night as the triple nation qualified teenager might need time to consider his international position. There followed a whole plethora of on line comment and observation, some of which was of a quite vitriolic bent. Michael’s representatives have this morning announced that the youngster was committed to Ireland and at no time had consideration been given to representing another country. We await the next stage of this very avoidable debacle with some trepidation. We can but hope that Michael is Aarhus and not Southampton bound on Saturday.
Our U18 side came from behind to defeat Belgium by two goals to one in their opening contest of the Invitation Tournament taking place in Murcia, Spain this week. Ireland fell behind early on but parity was restored with the equaliser scored by Glasgow Celtic midfielder Barry Coffey, who captained the side today. Ireland won this very competitive encounter with a second half penalty, converted by Aston Villa striker Tyriek Wright.
We next face England, again in the Pinatar Arena, at 1pm (Irish time) on Saturday afternoon.
Twenty eight players participated in this morning’s training session at the NTC in Abbotstown as the squad completed preparations for tomorrow evening’s friendly encounter with Northern Ireland in the Aviva Stadium. Matt Doherty has withdrawn from the squad following the head injury incurred with his club last weekend. Glenn Whelan will captain Ireland tomorrow night in his eighty fifth and probably final international appearance, although the Aston Villa midfielder has not formally retired and remains available should his country ever need him. Manager Martin O’Neill confirmed that teenage Southampton striker Michael Obafemi, who is also eligible to play for Nigeria and England, will be considered for action tomorrow night but will not be involved in the competitive match against Denmark on Monday evening.
Head Coach Paul Osam saw his U16 side restore pride with a crushing four nil defeat of Wales in their second contest of this year’s Victory Shield, played in Mounthawk Park, Tralee this Wednesday afternoon. First half goals from Louie Barry (West Bromwich Albion) and Oliver O’Neill (Fulham) set Ireland on their way and two second half goals from Andrew Moran (Bray Wanderers) and O’Neill again completed an excellent performance.
Our U17 side suffered a comprehensive four one defeat by Germany in their final match of the Invitation Tournament which took place in Dublin over the past six days. Following their earlier defeats by England and the Czech Republic, this afternoon’s humbling defeat leaves Head Coach Colin O’Brien with much food for thought. Germany were always in command this afternoon, with Matt Everitt’s goal mere consolation in an otherwise dispiriting performance.
Under 18 Head Coach Jim Crawford, who will be assisted by Andy Reid, has named his squad for the upcoming U18 International Tournament in Spain. Ireland will be joined in the competition by England, Holland and Belgium whom they will meet in their opening encounter in the Pinatar Arena at 1pm (Irish time) on Thursday afternoon. The squad includes 14 players from the U17 squad which performed so excellently at last May’s European Championship Finals.
Goalkeepers: Sean Bohan (Bohemian), Kian Clarke (Shamrock Rovers)
Defenders: Luca Connell (Bolton Wanderers), Tom Gaston (Bordeaux), Kameron Ledwidge (Southampton), Oisin McEntee (Newcastle United), Max Murphy (Stoke City), Ray O’Sullivan (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Reece Staunton (Bradford City)
Midfielders: Sean Brennan (Southampton), Barry Coffey (Glasgow Celtic), Shane Flynn (Leicester City), Conor Grant (Sheffield Wednesday), Jason Knight (Derby County), Brian McManus (Preston North End), Callum Thompson (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Forwards: Jake Ellis (Bray Wanderers), Adam Idah (Norwich City), Tyriek Wright (Aston Villa)
Our U17 side complete their Invitation Tournament schedule when they face Germany in Tallaght Stadium at 1pm on Wednesday afternoon. Following defeat to England and the Czech Republic in their opening two contests, Colin O’Brien and his squad will be anxious to complete their involvement with a more positive result this afternoon.