FIVE players from Rockmount depart for Bulgaria this week as part of Gerry Davies’ Irish amateur squad at the UEFA Regions Cup as they look to secure a finals tournament spot next summer.
Brendan O’Connell, Adam Crowley, Luke Casey, Eoin Murphy and Nathan Broderick are part of the 18-man squad for the three qualifying fixtures. Ireland face San Marino on Tuesday, October 25, at 9am, Romania on Friday, October 28, 9am, and Bulgaria on Monday, October 31, 1pm.
O'Connell is set to captain the side having been involved in the Regions Cup win back in 2015, along with St Michael's midfielder Jimmy Carr.
The squad has a mix of youth and experience but with only one team qualifying it’ll be a tough test.
“It’s a huge privilege to me and my family for me representing my country and I can’t wait to get over," said Adam Crowley.
The 22-year-old centre-back from Knockneheeney will be supported in Bulgaria by his mother and grandmother.
“They have been going to my games since I started off playing football and I hope they enjoy the experience as much as I will.
"The competition for a starting place on the team is crazy high even picking the 18 to travel would have been a tough pick for Gerry and coaches, but whoever is on the pitch will give 100% and I hope to play my part."
Luke Casey, from Coachford, knows it’s a huge honour to play for his country and having his family there to support him means a lot.
“It is a massive achievement to represent your country at any level so I am grateful to get the opportunity. Being able to put on that jersey is an honor every time I get to do it so it is definitely something I don’t take for granted.
"This will be my first tournament with Ireland and it is something I am looking forward to. We know how difficult the three games in such a short period of time in a different country will be but we are ready and looking forward to it.
“With Ireland, I play a slightly different position to what I am used to with Rockmount. We play a different formation. I still play on the left-hand side but I play slightly narrower. It is a new position and I have enjoyed learning and adapting to it.”
No stranger to the international set-up Brendan O'Connell has an incredible 72 caps.
“It’s always been a privilege to play for Ireland, it’s as special now as it was when I first wore the jersey in my teens,” said O’Connell.
“Being captain is a massive honour and I know that it’s a privilege bestowed on very few. The Irish team at this level offers players the opportunity to play at an elite level while still in a position to work or study.
“I also throughout my career have had numerous offers from League of Ireland clubs, but that was something that never really interested me.
“With the Irish team I can have a professional career and play international football- so have the best of both worlds. I am really looking forward to this campaign with an excellent squad."
Winger Eóin Murphy is looking forward to the campaign where he is expected to be a key player for Davies.
“Hard work pays off. I’m proud to have reached this level because I have my family at every game, my dad, my grandda and my sister and I’ve my mam beaming down on me knowing that if she was here she would be the happiest person in the world so it means everything to me to represent Ireland.”
Nathan Broderick is another player who should be a key figure.
“I am really looking forward to this campaign,” said Broderick. "Hopefully we can perform to the best of our ability and qualify. It’s fantastic there’s so many lads from Cork, and to all be from the same club is phenomenal really."
Rockmount to have five representatives flying the flag high for the club is a massive achievement and it shows the standard at the club. Huge credit to all involved.