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24th Nov 2016

Martin O’Neill outlines plans to run the rule over a number of young players over the next three months

Opportunity knocks

Sean McMahon

Opportunity beckons.

There will be plenty of football played between now and Ireland’s next World Cup qualifier against Wales at the Aviva Stadium in March.

This morning saw the launch of #Dublin2020, the event aimed at promoting Dublin’s status as a host city for the European Championships in 2020.

A number of distinguished guests were present at the launch including Republic of Ireland manager, Martin O’Neill.

SportsJOE caught up with O’Neill during the event and he told us that he will be keeping himself busy over the next couple of months looking at potential new Ireland players.

“There are a number of players now who I can go and have a good proper look at. Well I could mention 3 or 4 young lads, boys you have been in the periphery of things but who are actively improving at club level and that is the only way you are going to notice them.”

He then went on to explain how it can be difficult to analyse the performance of players plying their trade in the lower leagues.

“If you can tell me of some great expert who can delve into the third division and say “someone is capable of playing international football against Austria, Serbia, Wales and Italy… I don’t think there is a judge in football who can do that and I’m as good as any!”

Joking aside, when queried about the excellent form of Chris Forrester who is currently lining out for Peterborough United in League 1, he insisted that if he deems a player good enough, then he is in contention to be in the squad.

“It’s a hurdle in that sense (being a player from a lower division) but it wouldn’t deter me at all. If I thought I could see something in a player that is right in front of my face, then there would be no reason not to include him.”

This will come as music to the ears of Irish youngsters who have aspirations of playing international football and if the recent call-ups of Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle are anything to go by, the standard of football which you play on a regular basis may no longer be the sole prerequisite for international recognition.

Dick Clerkin makes his GAA Hour debut to talk about a wonderful career and argue passionately with Colm Parkinson over Sky Sports GAA. Subscribe here on iTunes.

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