Jake O’Brien has perfect finish to loan spell in Belgium 

Jake O’Brien has perfect finish to loan spell in Belgium 

Jake O'Brien of Republic of Ireland with his nephew, 3 month old Beau Summerton, after during the UEFA European U21 Championship play-off first leg match between Republic of Ireland and Israel at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

YOUGHAL'S Jake O’Brien ended his season long loan in Belgium by winning promotion to the Jupiler Pro League with RWD Molenbeek, which ensures the club will play at the top tier of the country’s football pyramid for the first time in their history.

They were already regular season champions after a successful campaign in the Challenger Pro League, and this completes a perfect year for the club that is based in Brussels.

RWD Molenbeek made sure that they finished the year on a high by defeating RSCA Futures, the youth academy of Anderlecht, 1-0 and they lifted the league trophy shortly after the full-time whistle.

O’Brien has been a key member of the squad having made over 30 league appearances, and he scored three goals for his adopted side.

This finishes a long season for the defender, a year that began with the Crystal Palace first team and a tour of far east Asia.

He even came on as a substitute during a friendly against Liverpool in Singapore and he managed to keep a star studded team featuring Mohammad Salah and Darwin Núñez scoreless.

The defender also featured for the Republic of Ireland U21s during their run to the play-offs of the European Championships for the first time in the country’s history.

He played both games against Israel, but there was no happy ending as they were beaten on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Dublin and a stalemate in Tel Aviv.

O’Brien’s progress has been noted with a host of English clubs interested in signing the defender last January.

Bristol City have a well reported interest in O’Brien, with scouts regularly travelling to Belgium to follow his progress with RWD Molenbeek.

This comes just two years after the Youghal native made the move to Selhurst Park from Cork City.

The defender is a graduate of the club’s youth academy having played in the Underage National Leagues, and he started playing senior football in 2019 under then City manager Neal Fenn.

He made his league debut during a 4-0 defeat to Derry City at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium and fully stepped up to the senior team during the 2020 Premier Division season.

O’Brien settled into life in London by helping The Eagles’ U23s win promotion through the Premier League 2 play-offs.

His first taste of senior football in England was with Swindon Town in League Two during the 2021-22 season. The defender made 19 appearances and helped the Robbins finish in sixth place, which ensured a place in the promotion play-offs.

The defender’s time at the County Ground ended in a penalty shoot-out defeat to Port Vale, following a 2-2 aggregate draw in the semi-finals of the League Two Play-Offs.

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