Tag Archives: Football

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: Troy Parrott (second left), celebrates with, from left, Jason Knight, Cameron Ledwidge and Barry Coffey during the UEFA U17 Championship Finals group between Bosnia & Herzegovina and Republic of Ireland in Burton-upon-Trent, England last May; Luke Brennan

When I first saw Robbie Keane play football, I thought “I know a Robbie Keane when I see one, and that Robbie Keane, is a Robbie Keane”. The question on every football fan’s lips these days, is “Where will we find the next Robbie Keane?”.

The FAI now have one of the most useful tools available in unearthing another Robbie Keane. They have, Robbie Keane. The thinking is that it takes a Robbie Keane to catch a Robbie Keane.

As they revealed Keane to the press, they had only one question, but dared not ask it: as Robbie leant down to sign on the dotted line, winking at the cameras, humming “There’s only one Robbie Keane” to himself.

“Will you be ringing Declan Rice, Robbie?”

I will in me swiss, thought Robbie, humming quietly to himself. “Yeah”, he said, “Meself and Mick will get the boy sorted”, wondering why anyone with half a million followers on Instagram would ring anyone.

You see, we don’t need another Robbie Keane, nor do we need Declan Rice.

It doesn’t matter if you are making sausages or running the Irish football team, the recipe for success is a steady supply of good raw material.

When you get that part right, you don’t end up relying on one player being your only goal-every-second-game striker for 20 years. We were lucky to have him, but we’re even luckier to have moved on.

I haven’t watched Premiership football in 20 years. I still won’t watch it. Everything from the prawn sandwiches to the wall-to-wall betting slogans winds me up, never mind the harm it does the Irish game.

I was living and working in the UK when I turned my back on it. I was placing in the top 5 of a company-wide fantasy football competition and had a “moment of clarity”, thinking I’d be better off spending my time working out what makes the factories of the world work than wasting any intellectual real estate on the Premiership.

I’m slightly disgusted with myself for even writing about it in passing; but it’s a necessary part of the good news that I bring.

Ireland are on the up.

They have been steadily improving their underage performance, the U17s were ranked 24th in Europe back in 2015, they’ve moved to 12th this year (Irish players Adam Idah and Aaron Connolly winning the golden boot for most qualification goals in the 2017 and 2018 competitions along the way).

At very least, we’ve got a golden generation.

There are half a dozen Irish teenagers making the bench in the Premiership this season, one even got a goal (Michael Obafemi scored the first premiership goal of the season by an Irish forward, in December). There are as many Irish teenagers in the English second division making it onto the pitch.

But that is nothing compared to what they are doing in the second string and underage
teams. In English underage football, the Irish are providing 5% of the players, but 12% of the goals.

They are learning their craft, captaining their teams, scoring winning goals with a relish that implies a new confidence. Heroism is an art; leadership a learnt skill. The Irish captains of the future are lining out for their club’s FA Youth cup teams in far greater numbers.

Last week Southampton’s youth team was captained by Kameron Ledwidge, formally of St.Kevin’s boys, Dublin. They were beaten 2-1 by Watford, captained by scorer of both goals, Ryan Cassidy, another St. Kevin’s alumni.

In another fourth-round tie, Preston beat Norwich, captained by Adam O’Reilly, defeating his former Cork schoolboy team-mate (and Norwich leading underage goal-scorer) Adam Idah.

There are other young captains, such as Stoke City’s Nathan Collins and Bolton’s Luca Connell. There is Troy Parrot at Tottenham. James Jennings, Ethan Varian, Will Ferry and Jason Knight all average a goal every other game for their Premier league youth teams. Parrot averages a goal a game.

I saw Ryan Nolan from Limerick captaining Inter Milan’s U19 team. I saw Ryan Johansson come on for 20 minutes as centre forward for Bayern Munich’s U19 team against Barcelona U19. He was the best player on the pitch.

All these players should put in a good performance at this year’s U19 championship. The 2020 U19 championship is being held just up the road in Northern Ireland, we can expect a good result in what is almost a local tournament.

Ireland’s U21 team will be building towards the 2021 finals in Slovenia. The hope is that the 2023 finals, when this golden-age of Irish football comes good, will be an all-Ireland hosted event.

A good result in that, would mean an Irish team would qualify for the 2024 Olympics. Plenty of opportunity to practice heroics, make mistake, learn, grow, yielding a mature and practiced squad.

We should also ask another question. What if that is the new normal? What if the wealth, prosperity, new genetic input and solid sports management is giving that result as a constant?

What if we’ve got the product pipeline right? What if there is another generation to follow?

Truth is we would need it.

Again, It doesn’t matter if you are making sausages or building an international football team; you need a product pipeline. Unlike sausage recipes, players wear out. You need to have been producing consistently over time to have a shot.

Did someone say we have a chance at a World cup? The future is bright, but the future is ten years away. Roll on World Cup 2030.

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

Top Pic: Malcolm Couzens/Sportsfile

Meanwhile…

England play Colombia tonight for a place in the World Cup Quarter Final  at 7pm.

They’re It’s going coming home.

UPDATE:

We’ll never hear the end of this.

football

The Sun reports:

Police have revealed there are more than 500 alleged victims and 248 clubs named in the football sex abuse probe.

The scandal emerged last year when a string of top footballers claimed they had been abused while at clubs’ youth systems and academies.

Police chiefs today announced Operation Hydrant, the UK-wide investigation into non-recent child sexual abuse, has now received 1,016 referrals.

This is up from 819 before Christmas.

Cops are now looking into 184 suspects, 526 potential victims, and 248 clubs.

This is an increase of 100 clubs, professional and amateur, since the last update four weeks ago.

Footie abuse scandal: 526 alleged victims, 184 possible suspects and 248 clubs named in football sex abuse probe (The Sun)

Previously: The Net Widens

Pic: Yahoo

carlisle-grounds-1

bwplan1862 Bray Athletic Grounds/Carlisle Grounds, Bray, Co. Wicklow (top), Bray Wanderers Strategic Plan (above)

Further to the Sunday Business Post story on the future of the Bray Wanderers and the inclusion of a new 4500 seat stadium in their future strategic plan.

Bray Wanderers shareholders will lobby present their plans to Councillors tonight in Bray at a public meeting.

Bray Wanderers who currently lease the Carlisle Grounds from the town council cite that the old grounds are not big enough for their future plans and that there is a need to aquire a site outside of Bray for their new greenfield leisure complex.

Steven Matthews, Green Party said:

If they (Bray Wanderers) want to go, it’s up to them, we haven’t initiated any process to ask them to leave. It’s the remit of the councillors to decide what happens to the land. It’s public land, it belongs to the council and we have no plans to develop it.

Any developer looking at Bray would say: There’s one I’d like to keep an eye on.

*drops fish and chips*

Save The Carlisle Grounds (Facebook Public Group)

Bray Wanderers Owners Push For Carlisle Grounds Land Swap (Sunday Business Post)

Paul Cahill (photo credit: Bray Wanderers Strategic Plan)

pollemma_imagepollemma_logo

Sick of the way the game is covered?

The hype, the haircuts and the unwelcome ‘spit roasts’.

You may like an Irish football blog called Pollemma, which caters for the ‘thinking fan’.

Polemma‘s founders Alan Walsh and Paul Tierney explain.

We’re looking to change the conversation around football a little by avoiding clickbait, endless talk of massive transfers and a lot of the nonsense you hear about the game at the top level, and look at football from a slightly different perspective.

We write about the Irish game but also cover stories people might not be familiar with from England, Italy, Africa, Iran and wherever people are kicking footballs. From John Delaney’s antics at the FAI to how a team of refugees are challenging the status quo in Italy.

We do write about the bigger English and European clubs, but in our own way. We love the game, and we’re trying to make Pollemma about why we love it.

We’d love to hear from writers who want to tell interesting stories about the beautiful game, designers, film-makers, coders or anyone creating anything about football.

We’d be thrilled to feature work from like-minded fans. You can mail us at votepollemma@gmail.com or on twitter @votepollemma

Pollemma

football

Police said the calls from 350 people saying they had suffered abuse came in just six days, from 24 to 30 November, and related to all aspects of football, from grassroots up to professional.

The number continues to grow, police said, and victims may have to wait because of the “significant” volume of reported child sex abuse crimes in football that have been reported since the Guardian’s revelations.

In a statement the national police chiefs’ council lead for child protection, chief constable Simon Bailey, said:

“It is important to note that this is an indicative figure only, and that information is still being collated, numbers will, therefore, continue to change.”

Police and experts believe the sexual abuse of children is massively underreported in Britain.

The former Newcastle United striker David Eatock became the latest footballer to tell police he was sexually abused in the sport. He told the Guardian that he was sexually abused during his time at the club by George Ormond, a former club youth coach.

Police say 350 people have come forward to report child sex abuse in football (The Guardian)

Football child sex abuse: Ex-Newcastle player David Eatock latest to speak out (BBC)

Pic Yahoo