St Patrick's Athletic striker Aidan Keena has been named in the Republic of Ireland U18 squad for the Slovakia Cup next week.
Jim Crawford's Boys In Green will face Czech Republic, Russia and Turkey.
The Slovakia Cup is eight-team tournament with a classification game also involved against the team who finish in the same position in the opposite group.
Aido has been an ever present in our U19 team this season and scored three times.
He's also played three times for the first team.
He spoke to StPatsFC.Com after finding out he was in the squad.
"Yeah I'm buzzing to be in the squad, it's always on honour to be called up for your country, hopefully we'll do well and from a personal point of view that I can get a few goals."
18 year old Keena, from Mullingar, has been capped for Ireland at U15 and U17 and already at U18 level.
He was in the Ireland U18 squad for the 0-0 draw against Netherlands and the 3-2 defeat to Germany.
"I enjoyed being in the camp the last time, Holland moved the ball really quickly as you could expect and we did well to get a 0-0 draw. Then against Germany, we started really well and went 2-0 up, but they came back to win 3-2 which is disappointing."
So what does he expect from Czech Republic, Russia and Turkey?
"Those three teams will all be really good. I played against Turkey at U15 level and drew 0-0 and it was a really difficult game, but we're confident that we can do well in the games."
Aido says his form for The Saints has helped him get into this squad.
"Our U19s have been doing well this season and I'm glad to have scored some goals, it's been really good to get some minutes for the first team too and I'm hoping for more of that between now and the end of the season."
The international football environment is something he's enjoyed so far.
"It's great to be involved in these squads and these games for all of us. Everything from the training sessions, to the team meetings, the hotels, the meals and everything is geared to us performing in the games."
"In terms of the environment provided, it gives us a look into what life as a full time professional footballer could be like in terms of how we prepare for games and it's been really good, I'm looking forward to meeting up with the squad."
Ireland Head Coach Jim Crawford has been speaking to FAI.IE
"I see this as a tournament that will give an opportunity to those players who haven't been involved before to show myself and Tom Mohan where they're at presently," said Crawford.
Given the tight timeframe that the tournament will be taking place in and the demanding level of their opponents, Crawford feels that the players will get a strong opportunity to make an impression.
"We'l see if these players are up to international level but it's also an opportunity for themselves as players to learn a lot and use this as a barometer of where they're at," added Crawford.
"Then they should see if they can bring that back to their clubs and make further progress as a player and help their overall development."
"The quality of the opposition will be very high. We've done our research on them and we know that the Czech Republic, Russia and Turkey are all excellent sides at this age group."
"The players all made a good impression on U19 Head Coach Tom Mohan during the last games and We will be looking for the players to make a similar impression upon him this time around and earn a slot for his squad in the next games for the U19s."
Republic of Ireland U18 Squad
Goalkeepers: Mark Travers (Bournemouth), Edward McGinty (Sligo Rovers)
Defenders: Alec Byrne (Cork City), Aaron O'Driscoll (Southampton), Warren O'Hora (Bohemians), James McSweeney (Cobh Ramblers), Rian O'Sullivan (Brighton & Hove Albion), Callum Mollett (Walsall)
Midfielders: Anthony Scully (West Ham United), Dan McKenna (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Jack Keaney (Sligo Rovers), Callum
Nicell (Leeds United), Stephen Mallon (Sheffield United)
Forwards: Aidan Keena (St Patrick's Athletic), Kian Flanagan (Crystal Palace), Dean Dillon (Shamrock Rovers), Michael Obafemi (Southampton), Thomas Byrne (Drogheda United), Shola Ayoola (Stoke City)
Monday, April 24: Czech Republic v Republic of Ireland, Modranka (KO 14:00)
Tuesday, April 25: Republic of Ireland v Russia, Dunajska Luzna (KO 10:00)
Thursday, April 27: Republic of Ireland v Turkey, Dunajska Luzna (KO 10:00)
Friday, April 28: Classification match, TBC
|9||St. Patrick's Athletic||15||14|
|10||Galway United FC||15||14|