Cork presence in Irish squad reflects work of schoolboys clubs on Leeside

Cork presence in Irish squad reflects work of schoolboys clubs on Leeside

Cork players (including Adam Idah centre) celebrate after defeating Kilkenny in 2014. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny recently named a 26-man squad for the upcoming matches against England, Wales, and Bulgaria and six of those players are from Cork.

The Boys in Green take on England at Wembley Stadium in a friendly on Thursday the 12th of November before they then face two crucial UEFA Nations League games.

They will travel to face Group 4 leaders Wales on Sunday, November 15 at the Cardiff City Stadium and they will be hoping to end the league campaign on a high by beating bottom side Bulgaria at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday, November 18.

With those three games all taking place within a short six-day period, Stephen Kenny will surely be looking to utilise the majority of the squad he has chosen, which may mean that the six Cork natives selected may all receive game time.

The five outfield players will most certainly feature with defenders John Egan, and Kevin Long, midfielders Conor Hourihane, and Alan Browne, and finally forward Adam Idah already featuring significantly under Kenny so far.

But there could be an opportunity for goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, who played under the former Dundalk boss at U21level, to make his senior debut and win his first-ever Irish cap.

Every time a player from Cork pulls on the famous Green jersey, it provides the county with a great sense of pride.

Greenwood's John Egan clearing the ball past Wilton United's Damian Roche in the U13 National Cup. Picture: Richard Mills.
Greenwood's John Egan clearing the ball past Wilton United's Damian Roche in the U13 National Cup. Picture: Richard Mills.

But when they do it for the first time - albeit the keeper jersey is technically a different colour - it’s even more significant and offers young footballers on Leeside another role model to try and emulate.

Also, what an incredible moment it would be for the Mahon area as a whole and local football club Ringmahon Rangers if Kelleher was to feature in a side that already contained another of their former players; Alan Browne.

Browne made a largely positive impact from the substitute’s bench in the recent Euro 2021 playoff semi-final against Slovakia before ultimately missing a penalty in the shoot-out defeat.

The attacking midfielder has been in good form for English Championship side Preston North End recently and will be hoping to kick on and nail down a regular starting berth for Ireland.

His job over the next week or so - the same potentially for Bandon’s Conor Hourihane - may be to create opportunities for Adam Idah, who will be looking to score his first senior goal.

Kenny is a big fan of the former College Corinthians attacker and with David McGoldrick announcing his international retirement last week, the chance is there for Idah to claim the number nine shirt and make it his own going forward.

The Irish have only scored the one goal in their five games under Kenny so far and that was a Shane Duffy header from a set-piece in the opening game against Bulgaria, hopefully, Idah can be the man to improve that record.

Ireland have looked better defensively with Bishopstown’s John Egan being integral to that but Ballyphehane’s Kevin Long will be looking to show what he can do after his appearance against Wales last time out was cut short after suffering a head injury.

It will be interesting to see how the six Cork natives fare during this International break but no matter what happens, they are already a great example for young footballers here to follow.

Stephen Kenny is continuing to change the perception of Irish football for the better and players from the Rebel County are at its core.

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