5 class U21s who are in pole position to break into the Ireland team very soon
Waking up this Wednesday morning, there was a sense that Irish football is going in the right direction.
It may only be five days since we squeezed another 1-1 draw out of the Swiss, but Denmark faltering in Georgia, the U21s beating Sweden away and a 3-1 win over Bulgaria that saw five players make senior debuts has us excited for what is to come. Irish football fans are already reading up on the next fixtures and making plans.
As Irish football fans were tuning in to Virgin Media or heading along to the Aviva Stadium, Stephen Kenny's U21s were beating Sweden 3-1 away from home. Buoyed by that success, Mick McCarthy's senior side were on the rosy side of that same scoreline as Bulgaria came, were seen and were duly conquered.
McCarthy handed debuts to Jack Byrne, James Collins, Mark Travers, Kieran O'Hara and Josh Cullen and all five will have left the ground, last night, happy with their lot, and knowing they had contributed well to the friendly win.
That quintet will be itching for more international action but much of the giddiness in the country is coming from watching the progress of our U17, U19 and U21 sides taking on the world's best and ruffling feathers by getting the ball down and passing it about with stealth and intent.
Kenny will take over the reins from McCarthy after Euro 2020 and he will bring plenty of his young charges along with him. Some, however, look more than ready for a chance at senior level before Kenny even steps into the hot seat.
Here are five Ireland U21s in pole position to imminently break into the Ireland senior side.
Troy Parrott (Tottenham)
Only a matter of time for the Spurs striker. Yet to make his senior competitive debut but, with Giovani Lo Celso injured for six weeks, may soon be drafted onto the bench for Premier League and cup duty. Came off the bench for the Under 21s, in Sweden, and scored two superb goals.
Just a casual chip over the 'keeper for Troy Parrott's second 🤷♂️
Ireland under-21s come from behind to beat Sweden 3-1 👏👏pic.twitter.com/SqoXo5p4WU
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) September 10, 2019
"We’ll try to get him watched and if I think he is right, I will take him," said McCarthy when asked if the 17-year-old could be drafted in for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Georgia and Switzerland.
Aaron Connolly (Brighton)
Another player that earned praise from McCarthy and this was before he had another fine outing for the U21s. Set up the Irish winner against Armenia, on Friday, and is playing with a lot of confidence.
Scored his first senior goal for Brighton in the League Cup just a fortnight ago and followed that up, four days later, with a Premier League debut against Manchester City. We will hopefully see the Connolly-Parrott combination at senior level soon, and it could see us fruitfully through the next 10 to 12 years.
Nathan Collins (Stoke)
Made his senior debut for Stoke earlier this year and, at the age of just 18, captained The Potters in League Cup action this season. The former Cherry Orchard defender has already made five senior appearances for his club this season and is highly-rated at both Stoke and by the Irish set-up.
Conor Masterson (QPR)
Left Liverpool for QPR over the summer but has all the qualities to make it back to the Premier League and hold his own. Composed at the back, a tidy passer, unafraid to stick his boot, body and head in where it hurts and, as he proved with his header against the Swedes, a goal threat from set-pieces.
Jayson Molumby (Millwall)
McCarthy was fulsome in his praise for Molumby after seeing him run the show from midfield against Armenia. Had another fine outing against Sweden and it will do wonders for him after recently making his senior debut for Millwall in the League Cup. Currently on loan from Brighton, the 20-year-old from Waterford has that nice mix of grit and skill that has him ear-marked for a senior role in the not too distant future.
Five good reasons for Irish football fans to be excited for the coming months and years of internationals.