Author Archives: Luke Brennan

Feast Roast.

A vegan alternative to stuffed turkey crown.


From Irish start-up Thanks Plants.

Luke Brennan writes:

If anyone is interested in eating a bit less meat this Christmas, this (above) is what I am going for.

They have a rather delicious Seiten festive roast. Seiten flour is the same core ingredient in their vegan sausage range, which I got slightly addicted to this summer. Available in most Dublin based SuperValu stores, or online through their website (at link below). Not quite a stocking filler, but 100% Irish and a great addition to the Christmas table!

Thanks Plants

Irish-made stocking fillers to marked ‘Irish-Made Stocking Fillers’. Noo fee

Got to keep the loonies on the path.

‘Crazy Chain’.

A new, Irish invention for powering multiple devices from a single source without electrocuting the entire rhythm section.

Luke Brennan, founder of Dublin-based MyVolts and him off the ‘telly’, writes:

It’s like a daisy chain, but you can chain the characteristics (tip size, polarity, link length) as you go along the chain. It’s very useful for those looking to power a couple of synthesisers, or guitar pedals, or both, in the simplest way possible.

It’s just a small thing, but very useful to the person who needs it.

We were lucky enough to have the wonderful synth/ bass guitar wizard Gaz Williams create a launch video (above) for us.

We designed it in-house, we’re very proud to be an Irish company making useful contributions to the world of music technology.

Wait for multi-pedal eargasm @5.07.

Crazy Chain (MyVolts)

Need a bag?

A bag that can hold heavy objects like a mini synth?

Read on.

Ivory-tinkling, Porto-based Luke Brennan, him off the ‘telly‘, writes:

A video I made as a thank you to the guys at Mamukko down in Kinsale, County Cork.

Originally from Hungary, they are 3rd generation leather-makers who have taken to upcycling sails/dingys/liferafts into the finest bags/wallets/etc.

They are a fixture down in Kinsale, you wouldn’t meet more decent, charming, creative, skillful people, we’re lucky to have them.


Irish-made stuff to marked ‘Irish-Made Stuff’. No fee.

This morning’s The Guardian

Luke Brennan writes:

If you click on the headline above that says “US scientists believe virus is mutating, becoming more contagious“….

…you click through to a page with the subhead that states “Experts believe virus is probably more contagious“…

Then in the article body it states:

“The study did not find that mutations of the virus have made it more lethal or changed its effects, even as it may be becoming easier to catch”…

The article it links through to on The Washington Post is a good one, giving an intelligent balanced perspective on the immunologist perspective on the evolution of the virus.

The lowdown is this, viruses always mutate, the first half of the Guardian headline “US scientists believe virus is mutating” is like saying “US scientists believe rain is falling”. It is a characteristic part of its being.

It saddens me, as someone who studied science, to see this sort of headline. At the heart of science is a search for truth and the honest appraisal of relationships between things to help us learn and progress.

The Washington Port article is an excellent example of this. It starts with a simple premise, there are two strains of the virus that were prevalent in a test study, a “D” and a “G” version.They found that the virus was 71% G in the first wave, 99.9% G in the second wave. So G is more prevalent. The study states simply that.

Then there are interpretations of this data, by two scientists…

… one David Morens, had this (above) to say.

The article is then balanced by another perspective, that of Kristian Andersen (above):

You can see here that no-one is looking for a “Gotcha” moment here, the facts of the study is detailed, views are expressed, accepting that there are multiple interpretations. The article finishes up by a lament that more studies of these types are not carried out, that more data is available.

The key point of the article is this, if a record is kept of the sequencing, we can anticipate what the virus will do next. As Musser said in the last quote in the article “I think it is shameful that we are not doing that“.

Does that study, and the interpretation of it in the WP deserve to be summed up with a B – movie plotline? “US scientists believe virus is mutating, becoming more contagious”.

I’m sure it gets the clicks, but the first part is self-evident and connecting it to the second is to live on very thin moral gravy.

Previously: Luke Brennan on Broadsheet

From top: The Queens, Dalkey: A view of Sir John Hasler’s house in Dalkey by John Campbell (1757-1829)

The Queens in Dalkey is a pub which will not be opening this week. The pub is laid low with Coronavirus, staff have been made redundant; there is a possible unsightly end in prospect.

The Irish Times raised the possibility that it may be flattened to make apartments. The Queens in Dalkey is older than the Irish Times, so perhaps it is forgivable that it does not know its history.

Less forgivable is that the Queen’s pub does not know its own history. If it did, it would have more than enough reason to cry for its own preservation.

The Queens is Dalkey. More than you might think or know. I know more than most about it, so I’ll share it with you, but sit tight, because it is quite a ride. It involves shipwrecks, white slavery, hidden gold and a lot more besides.

Firstly, the key to this story is lost, missing in a typo. Like all the most important things, you wouldn’t find even if you were looking. That typo is there for all to see on the Queens’ website, under the history section, which reads:

Although The Queens was licensed to dispense alcohol from 1787 ( a date that makes it Dalkey’s and one of Ireland’s oldest inns) the origins of The Queens date back even further to medieval times when Dalkey was the commercial port of Dublin.

The Concert room of The Queen’s Royal Hotel, Dalkey, as it was then known, formed part of the famous “Castle House”, the “hospitable manor” erected by Sir John Mastor, who came to Ireland in the court of the Viceroy, the Duke of Rutland.

This very impressive claim gives a hint as to its history but would be a dead-end if you went to search further. The Castle House was indeed its name, but it was a Sir John Hasler who built this House. This is the story of how he came to do that. However, that story does not start here, it, as many good stories do, has its beginnings in Co. Cork.

On the 11th of November 1758, the HMS Litchfield set sail from Cork Harbour in a convoy of 11 ships, flying British royal navy colours, it was assigned to lead the squadron. Its mission was to transport troops to West Africa.

However, disaster struck after just 16 days at sea. As the crew bedded down, thinking themselves to be 350 miles from the African coast, they found themselves shipwrecked on the Barbary coast (modern day Morocco).

The resulting scenes are too horrific and repugnant to be repeated here. 220 of the 350 crew made it to shore, some women and children included, the others perished over a 3 day period as they tried to make it to safety. Those that did make it to shore were captured, enslaved and escorted to Marrakesh under the invitation of the Moroccan emperor.

You might ask yourself at this point, what this has to do with the Queens pub In Dalkey. Well, you could be quite sure that if that incident did not happen then, the pub that is no longer a pub would not be there in the first place. A Butterfly’s wing causes hurricanes, given enough time.

What happened next in this story, is that a John Hasler, an Englishman, was asked if he would act as secretary to the Governor of Gibraltar, the closest British port, to help resolve the crisis.

Having 220 British subjects enslaved in Morocco was not going down too well in Westminster. The Fleet street papers thought it a national disgrace.

John Hasler was sent into the court of the Moroccan Emperor and managed, to much acclaim, to successfully negotiate the slaves release after 18 months of captivity.

This success brought him some good fortune, but also the friendship of George Townsend, as in the Marquess Townsend, who was in the locale helping protect the Portuguese from the Spanish in the years that followed.

It’s the same George Townsend that became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1767. And who do you think he called up (it was pre-internet, so he had to ring him) to offer a job when moved to Dublin?

Our John Hasler.

And when he came to Ireland, where did he choose to buy?

Only Dalkey. The big shot and saviour of the Moroccan escapade. He was the Matt Damon of the day.

The Dalkey that he met in 1767 had seen better days. Although it had been a medieval port of significance, it had “dwindled to a few miserable fishing huts”.

Continue reading →

From top: lockdown loneiiness study report in The Observer; Luke Brennan

Significantly more woman will feel lonely after reading this article than men.

The above statement is true. It is a fact. The truth of that fact, however, depends on our interpretation.

Let us first accept that more women than men feel lonely, as was recorded in a recent phone poll by the UK’s Institute for Social and Economic Research:

More than a third of women (34%) said they now sometimes felt lonely, and 11% said they often felt lonely. Among men, 23% were sometimes lonely while only 6% were often lonely.

More women than men feel lonely, so therefore, even if the same proportion of women suffer increased loneliness after reading this article, it will be significantly more.

Perhaps you are asking yourself why you are reading this article at this point? You should. Perhaps it is because of the engaging photo of the lonely girl above, or, that on some unconscious level you feel you will understand yourself or the world better by adding to the information you have about it.

Perhaps you wish to avoid loneliness yourself? All of these are valid reasons. The why is not important, the important thing is that you read on, regardless, about the lonely girls. Who could leave them here on these cold paragraphs?

Another question. What if you saw the above pictured girl, with an article which opened with the following statement?

Significantly more women than men are experiencing problems with their mental health as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

That’s how an article online at The Observer started out last week. We have the picture, we have the statement, what about the facts? The article following with:

New research by Lisa Spantig and Ben Etheridge, economists at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, suggests it is because women are more adversely affected by social isolation during lockdown.

The study reveals that the proportion of people who are reporting that they are experiencing at least one severe underlying mental health problem has increased among both genders. Among men it has risen from 7% of men before the pandemic to 18% after its onset. But for women, it has risen from 11% to 27%.

On the basis of these facts, the article’s author, Jamie Doward, continued his theorising with further information, quoting directly from one of the report’s authors, Ben Etheridge:

“It’s well documented that women have drawn the short straw on several different fronts,” Etheridge said. “For example, they are more likely to have lost their jobs.”

Other possible factors include the effects that restrictions on exercise and greater demands involving childcare and domestic work have had on women.”

He then links it with the statistical evidence regarding loneliness at the start of this article. He wraps things up with some useful web search data:

The findings are bolstered by online data which shows that many are struggling with isolation. Results from analyses of Google trends reveal that searches involving words such as “loneliness”, “worry” and “sadness” are increasing in many countries.

It seems very authoritative.

Yes. Yes, Yes. But. Does anyone else feel that their buttons are being pressed?

Jamie is a journalist of 20 years’ experience. He is writing articles for a newspaper which, as part of the Guardian, claims:

Leadership is broken. From the coronavirus pandemic and police brutality to the marginalisation of minority communities around the world, our leaders are failing us. Self-serving and divisive, they are gambling with public health and the future of younger generations. We have to make them raise their game.

This is what the Guardian is for. As an open, independent news organisation we investigate, interrogate and expose the incompetence and indifference of those in power. Your support helps us produce quality, trustworthy, fact-checked journalism every day – and publish it free so everyone can read.

Is the Observer/Guardian ever so slightly over-estimating it’s position in the world? Could it just be another newspaper?

I’m not in any doubt that the Guardian is well intentioned, or that it doesn’t do world class investigative reporting. But. In order to keep this gleaming rocket ship pointed at the stars, they have opened up a donut shop on the ground floor.

We don’t really need the lonely girl articles. Perhaps if the Guardian were a little less morally ambitious, it would be less blind to this. There is no point in being woke, but not awake.

If you look carefully at the numbers on which this article is built:

Among men it has risen from 7% of men before the pandemic to 18% after its onset. But for women, it has risen from 11% to 27%.

Among men you’ll see that a 7% to 18% rise, is a 157% rise. ((18/7 *100)-100)

For women you’ll see that an 11% to a 27% rise is a 145% rise ((27/11*100)-100)

Considering that, do you think this (again, the article opener from above) is true?

‘Significantly more women than men are experiencing problems with their mental health as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.’

I do not understand how there could be any interpretation other than that mental health issues have increased at a greater rate in men than women. Unless you wanted it to be so.

Unless you got so good at making donuts, you forget they weren’t always good for people. Unless you had trained millions to carry around a tray of those donuts on their phones.

I don’t think it’s intentional malice, I think there is an important “but” in the author phrasing:

“But for women, it has risen from 11% to 27%.

The only reason he would add that “but”, is that he believes that the women’s rate increase is higher. His crime is not an intentional one, but rather one of poor mathematics.

One has to ask also, where are the much-vaunted fact-checkers? With these ambitious intentions, it is important part of making sure things add up.

Build a spaceship if you wish but be sure it’s foundations are rock solid. Perhaps pay more attention to morality in how the message is delivered.

Luke Brennan is an Ireland born, Portugal-based writer and entrepreneur and regularly appears on Broadsheet on the Telly.

One third of UK women are suffering from lockdown loneliness (Jamie Doward, The Observer, June 14)

From top: Adam Idah (top left) and Adam O’Reilly as young Republic of Ireland teammates; Adam and Adam, as senior football rivals today; Luke Brennan

What are the chances?

This time last year, I wrote about two players, both called Adam, both from Cork, who ended up playing against each other in the English FA youth Cup.

That day, Adam O’ Reilly had won out, the flinty midfielder captaining a strong Preston North End U18 side.

He scored one of three goals that beat an U18 Norwich side starring Adam Idah, their star striker, who had scored two hat-tricks in the competition the previous year, this year, came up short.

On Saturday, a year older and wiser, they faced off again. This year the stage was so much bigger: they had both made the jump up to the senior squads of their respective clubs, this time they met in the senior FA Cup, the real FA Cup.

O’Reilly had a more difficult year, injury pulling him in and out of the first team, he had only made it to the bench.

As young footballing bodies try to progress this final stage in their development, injuries are common. Players appear and disappear in a panicked sea, as they clamour towards their hopes and dreams.

Those that get left behind are never heard from again, swimming in the hope and dreams of your friends and family, amidst all the backslapping, a man could drown in his own expectations. Nobody wants to fall foul of their own ordinariness.

The only way out of this cold sea is to announce yourself in such a way that cannot be forgotten. Write your name in letters big and bold. MY NAME IS ADAM. So that the manager knows your name, and the players know your name, and the dogs in the street know your name. The fans need to know your name and call it out, you need to be unforgettable. ADAM. ADAM. ADAM. The press should be asking, about, well, WHAT ABOUT ADAM?

Adah Idah is not an ordinary player. After his performance on Saturday, well, everyone at the club knows his name. He got his first senior team start and he grabbed it with both hands.

Within 90 seconds he was on the scoresheet, breaking at pace from midfield before calmly slotting the ball into the far corner.

By half time he got a second, taking advantage of some poor goalkeeping, he drove the ball into an empty net, but from 40 yards, on his weaker left foot.

He completed his hat-trick in the second half winning his own penalty, before converting it with his usual delicate ease. The youngest FA cup hat-trick scorer since Ian Lawson in 1957.

Adam Idah has soft feet, he scores with delicate ease, he strokes the ball into the net; he manages this while inhabiting a frame not unlike that of Zlatan Ibrahimović. In this, the universe seems to be playing some deeply ironic cosmic joke on us, as Adam Idah could not be more unlike Zlatan in every other way.

Adam Idah is humble, considered, courteous, affable and thoughtful. If you had a daughter, you’d love if she brought Adam Idah home, you’d think “That’s a relief”.

Adam Idah is cool, in the only way someone can actually be cool; he is cool because he couldn’t care less about being cool (most likely because he is too busy thinking about how he can score more goals).

Of course Adam Idah is most cool because he is from Cork. And for some reason, Cork seems to produce a large number of hyper-cool people. They are mystery to me, Cork people.

They produced Roy Keane, who I could never understand until St.Patrick appeared to me in a vision explaining to me that, like the shamrock, Roy was three things, 1) My favourite footballer of all time 2) Someone who I deeply admired as a human being 3) A bit of a langer. – Like the shamrock, he was one thing, but also, all three things.

As for Adam O’Reilly. I’m guessing his day in tall letters isn’t so far away. He first hit the headlines in 2014 as a 13 year old, who, when his Ringmahon Rangers team were 1-0 up to Corinthian Boys (Adam Idah’s team, a co-incidence, or is it?) and had been awarded a penalty.

He adjudged the award to be unfair to the other team (a player had picked up the ball to allow attention to an injured player). O’Reilly stepped up and rolled the ball into the goalkeeper’s hands. The first penalty miss of his fledgling career.

Good karma awaits those who know how to do the right thing. It’s great that we are producing such fantastic footballers, but isn’t it phenomenal that they are such wonderful human beings too?

In the last year since I first proposed that Ireland might win the 2030 World Cup, things have been moving along nicely. Adam Idah isn’t the only one hitting the headlines.

We’ve also had man of the match performances from Aaron Connolly with 2 goals against Spur in the premiership. Jason Knight got two for Derby in the Championship, Wayne Rooney says he reminds him of a younger version of himself.

Nathan Collins was Stoke’s youngest ever captain in August: when he was awarded the winning goal, he amended the record to say it was his team- mate. Troy Parrot has made his Premiership debut.

Micheal Obafemi has been getting on the pitch for Southampton in the premiership, he scored against Chelsea, the goal was top-drawer, the turn to take it was better, but the Irish jig to celebrate it suggests he needs more time in Dublin based training camps.

All the above players are not only Irish Under 21 Internationals, but also qualify as Under 19s. Add in Will Smallbone who scored in Southampton’s senior FA Cup match. Gavin Kilkenny, who is making the grade at Bournemouth, on the senior bench on Sunday, but a goal scoring man of the match winner in a summer game with Lyon.

The outstanding Conor Coventry has just signed a long term contract at West Ham. At Celtic you have a trio of players at (Barry Coffee, Jonathan Afolabi, and Luca Connell ) all itching to make an impact at club level.

As well as all these wonderful club performances, they have been ripping up trees for the Ireland Under 21s. Looking like contenders to qualify for U21 Euros for the first time. However, this is just a test run, for the next U21 campaign (it runs on a two year cycle), we’ll lose no more than 3 or 4 players, leading us to the U21 2023 Euro Championship at full strength.

Leading us nicely into the 2024 Olympic qualification, which should be a nice dry run for the World cup final 6 years later.


Luke Brennan is an Ireland born, Portugal-based writer, entrepreneur and sports fan.

PS: If you’d like more frequent updates on the progress of the young Irish footballers, I can suggest no better source than @KennysKids on twitter. Run by UCD student Kevin Higgins, he provides such thorough and up to date reporting that I wonder if he will make through college at all. Or perhaps he’ll be the real winner from the 2030 World cup as he passes 1 million followers and retires with his laptop to the Caribbean.

 Previously: Why I Think We Could Win The World Cup In 2030

Free Friday?

The myVolts Dublin Gear Swap at Culture Night 2019.

myvolts founder Luke Brennan (him off the telly) writes:

Got music gear gathering dust? Bring it to the myVolts Gear Swap! Eurorack, synths, effects pedals, MIDI controllers, drum machines, audio interfaces – it’s all welcome, at The Ampitheatre, Wood Quay, Dublin at 5pm to 9pm.

Stop by, have a gear chat, swap away, AND pick up some freebies.

Alleviate your Gear Acquisition Syndrome guilt at the friendliest environmentally-friendly event of Culture Night, with myVolts!

myVolts Dublin Gear Swap

From top: Ireland Under-19s during their 5-0 win over Romania in  the UEFA European Under-19 Championship Elite Round in March; Luke Brennan

How healthy is Irish underage soccer?

Answer: A little bit too healthy.

Before heading off to a respectable semi-final exit in the Toulon tournament, the Irish under-21 team beat the senior team 2-1. The funny thing about that, is that most of the talent on the under- 21 team comes from the under-19 team.

If they were able to keep their own players, the under-19 team would most likely beat the under-21 team.

For this reason, the Irish under-19 team head off to compete in the European finals in Armenia this month as victims of their own success.

Eight of their top players have been held back from competing by their UK clubs.

Nathan Collins (who was rumoured to be the subject of a £7M move to Man Utd. earlier this summer) has been held back with a guarantee of more first team football with Stoke City, in order to develop him as a player (or more likely to fatten him up with first team action to attract more offers).

Luca Connell has made his big move to Celtic, first team action is not guaranteed, but it is most likely that potential Champions league qualifier action will hold him back from the trip to Armenia.

Conor Coventry has been held back by West Ham, travelling with the first team to Switzerland to see if he is good enough to provide cover for Declan R**e – and he is.

Jason Knight, the box to box teenage sensation from Cabinteely is off to Florida with Championship side Derby for a pre-season tour with new manager and ex- Barcelona midfielder Phillip Cocu; an experience in itself.

Lee O’Connor is being held back at Manchester United, after his outstanding performance at the Toulon tournament, they may more greatly prize him as an asset.

Adam Idah has signed a professional deal with newly promoted premiership team Norwich, with the guarantee of first team training and the hope that appearances will follow.

Similar assurances were given Aaron Connolly at Brighton, who is the other multi-award winning goal-scorer which Ireland now have representing them in the Premiership.

Troy Parrott occupies his own stratosphere. Should he justify the hype, and there is nothing to suggest he can’t, he will be a once in a generation player that will repay the faith that Mauricio Pochettino intends showing him.

Indications are that he will be named in their summer squad for a trip to Singapore. A chance to prove that he is deserving of a first team place at 17 years of age.

Now that is a lot of quality to be missing out on, surely they can’t compete without eight of their starters?

Well, all but Luca Connell and Jason Knight were unavailable in the qualification process. It didn’t stop the U-19s beating Romania 5-0, Azerbaijan 3-1 and Russia 2-0.

They have quality and confidence in depth.

Adam O’Reilly looks every bit the flinty ambitious midfielder from Cork with an eye for goal that we’ve been missing these last few years.

Ryan Cassidy looks like the player that Robbie Keane wanted to be. Good enough for Liverpool, if he ever makes his dream move to there from Watford.

Where is all this quality coming from? Everywhere.

We may even have to re- assesses the Ross O Carroll Kelly stereotype; the under-19 right back Andy Lyons went to Blackrock College.

When I heard Greystones-born Simon Power interviewed after the under-21 game, he sounded like he just scored a try for Clongowes.

We also have the Reghbas, the Eboseles, the Afolabis, the Omobamideles. All welcome and a great addition. I’m great believer in the theory that the more you represent, the more you can be. The many faces of a new Ireland, with a new team to prove it.

A football team should represent changes in a society, all changes.

I hope it’s true, I hope the change is coming from all corners. I hope also that part of the change is that Irish people are beginning to realise that the best way to support the national team is to support their local team.

Attendances are up 15% at League of Ireland matches this year. No reason why that can’t happen every year.

It’s part of the reason why, when UCD’s highly rated teenage winger Neil Farrugia was offered a move to Man City, he choose to move to Shamrock Rovers instead.

Farrugia earned 600 points in his leaving certificate and is a gifted Biomedical Science student; he has options. The idea of turning out for a team that had an attendance of 6,414 in a recent derby game with Bohemians is also something which wasn’t always on offer in Ireland.

I think Irish football has a lot to gain from the rising affluence in Irish society. Along with increasing the genetic diversity, it means that there is a few quid to pay for a physio, have the video analysis gear, or think a bit more about diet.

When I was young, sports teams were managed by whoever’s dad had a car and could drive to matches. That wasn’t so long ago. Now we are an affluent nation, with cars, a few quid, well organised leagues and people with a few spare hours to volunteer and run them. These things make a difference.

I think every type of diversity is useful, even our sporting diversity. It may well be why Ireland punches above our weight in sport. Consider that Soccer competes with Gaelic football, Hurling, Rugby and the rest for it’s playing pool.

No other European country has such diverse sporting interest and there is a growing acceptance that a range of sports may be better for development than a relentless Tiger Woods style focus on one sport. Perhaps diversity is the reason for success, rather than a hindrance to it.

Go diversity, Go Ireland.

Luke Brennan is an Ireland born, Portugal-based writer, entrepreneur and sports fan.

Uefa Under-19 Championships

Previously: Green Shoots (Or: Why I Think We Might Win The 2030 World Cup)

From top: clockwise from top left: Nathan Collins, Max Murphy, Ryan Cassidy and Aaaron Connolly; Luke Brennan

I bear the saddest news.

It seems the English have taken Michael Collins.

I watched him rifling one into the back of the net for the Everton’s FA Youth Cup side, mobbed by fellow blueshirts.

Moments later I was on his twitter page, shocked to find that he has left behind his Irish heritage, thrown in his lot with the English. He’s too far gone lads.

They have taken him in body and mind. He’s already sharing photos of his abs and looking for someone to join in his snapchat stories.

All is not lost, we still have Max Murphy, he’s alive and well and playing for Stoke City. I hear Steve Coogan is on the way back to us too, Irish passport in the post. Good man Steve. It’s a difficult station for the Irish-ish.

Word on the street is that out at Green Acres retirement home, things are still very tense around dinner time. Quinner has come over all Tony Robbins, telling Mick he has to”awaken the giant within”, telling him “Food is the medicine we don’t know we are taking”. Mick still wouldn’t eat rice for a week. Cas still thinks he might come back to us, thinks we should try one more roll of the dice.

We arrive at the International break just a few days after the last Irish captain in the FA Youth Cup has fallen. On St Patrick’s day, of all days, Ryan Cassidy lived out a childhood dream and scored into the Kop end at Anfield.

It was the semi-final, and not enough to carry his Watford team into the final, they lost 2-1. It’s not an exaggeration to say he carried the team, as captain, scoring two goals in each of the three previous rounds.

This is just one small part of the significant firepower that Irish youth football has at it’s disposal. All Ryan’s exploits didn’t even get him into the U19 squad for the important Elite qualification phase in Russia, only into the Irish U18 team playing a friendly double-header against Turkey.

My thoughts in these matches are often with the players who don’t make it. We have the injured Aaron Connolly, who was the reserve premiership top scorer before his hamstring went. He was soon replaced by another Irishman, Adam Idah, who has been pulled up to the Irish U21 team.

The 17 year old captain of Stoke City’s Under 23 team, Nathan Collin, scored a goal on his last outing, but injured himself and won’t make it to Russia.

Then there is Glen “The Goal machine” McAuley, who has spent the year fighting for his place on the Liverpool U23 team after two years as top scorer for their U18 team. It’s been tough. Tough to get game time and tough to score when he has.

He’s managed  three goals in cup competitions, but none in the league. Yet he has managed two Man of the Match awards this year. He is a prodigious talent, he scored the goal vs Slokavia that qualified Ireland as Under 17s to the finals in England last year.

It is a thing of beauty.

Reminiscent of Zidane’s first senior goal for France, where he slaloms left and right without even touching the ball to beat the first two players. Great players do great things without thinking, the very best can do them without even touching the ball.

McAuley is a fighter, for his goal, he wins ownership of the ball without having any right to it. Feigns right, then casually sidefoots the ball into the goal past the back-pedalling ‘keeper. One touch, temporary immortality achieved, for a few years, you would think. Yet, he still hasn’t made it to Russia.

The thing is, it’s a viciously competitive arena, youth football. It’s full of promise, not only your own dreams, but family, friends, loved ones. There isn’t much room for a u-turn, so everyone keeps on going. Nothing has the potential to crush like punctured expectation.

Who would be a Troy Parrott, a Ryan Cassidy or a Glen McAuley. Or a host of other names, celebrated, but soon forgotten.

We have Irish youth football teams lining out this week at U21, U19, U18 and U17 levels.Let’s cheer them on, but also hope they get support in years to come for all their hard work and sacrifice. I’m guessing success is the easy bit….

…My interest in football this year has been rekindled by a 5 a side football group (above) I set up in Porto. Football, and all sport is a way we have to share our playful nature.

I’ve always found it’s a great way to know people, and get to know people. It’s the little things, like those in our group that have given others a spare room, or helped someone find a job, that makes it seem worthwhile to me.

My wish for these brave young footballers, is that football always supports them, even in these small simple ways.

Luke Brennan is an Ireland born, Portugal-based writer, entrepreneur and sports fan.

Previously:Green Shoots (Or: Why I Think We Might Win The 2030 World Cup)

Top pics: FAI