- Monday February 6th, 2017 @ 12:49
INTERVIEW: Eight Saints Named In Ireland International Squads
EIGHT St Patrick's Athletic players have been named in Ireland international squads this week.
U17 players Brian Maher, Luke Nolan, Cian Lee and Richie O'Farrell flew off to Alicante in Spain on Monday morning from a week long training camp.
U17 goalkeeper Harry Clarke is in the Ireland U16 squad for two friendly matches against Hungary in Galway later this month.
JJ Lunney is also on his way to Spain.
His Ireland U19 squad will play in the La Manga Invitational Tournament, which begins this Friday.
While first team players Rory Feely and Alex O'Hanlon will play for the Ireland U21 home based squad in a friendly game against the Irish amateur team this Saturday.
Maher, Nolan, Lee and O'Farrell were all part of our U17 SSE Airtricity Elite league winning team last season, and will spend the next week with Ireland in Oliva in the province of Valencia.
Ireland will meet Hungary on Thursday before playing Romania on Saturday.
Colin O'Brien's side are preparing for the UEFA U17 Championships Elite Qualifying Phase where they will travel to Cyprus in March to face hosts Cyprus, Slovakia and Faroe Islands.
Having had a training camp in the UK late last month, O'Brien is looking forward to taking the players away.
"These games in Spain will be a key part of our preparations for the Elite Qualifying Round in March so we're very pleased to have this opportunity to bring the squad together."
Saints Manager Liam Buckley also gave his reaction to StPatsFC.Com
"I'm delighted that the four lads are in the Ireland U17 squad. For St Pat's players to make up 1/5th of the squad is fantastic for the club. I watched the majority of our U17 games last season and the lads played a key role in the success of the team, I'm sure they can do the same for their country."
So what does Liam think about having eight players set to represent their country across four different international squads this month.
"It's a great honour for us to have eight players involved in Ireland squads. We have three very talented groups at U17, U19 and first team level with the U15s coming on board in a few months."
"Hopefully we have many more international players to come, the future is looking bright for us at the moment."
"Some of our other players may be disappointed not to be in the Ireland squads at the moment, but if they keep performing at club level, they'll give the international managers something to think about."
The Ireland U19s are also in tournament preparation mode with JJ Lunney in their squad.
Tom Mohan's side travel to Belgium for the UEFA European U19 Championship Elite Phase next month to face Italy, Sweden and hosts Belgium, with one team qualifying for the finals in Georgia this summer.
Before that, they'll play Norway, Portugal and Slovakia at the La Manga tournament which begins this coming Friday.
Mohan says the design of the competition, with three games in six days, will be ideal preparation for what awaits them in Belgium.
"This is another good opportunity for us to get the players together and help our preparations for the UEFA Elite Phase in March."
"The games we'll play will all be good tests and the tournament format will also be very beneficial ahead of what's a testing Elite Phase. This is a good group of players and we're looking forward to working with them in Spain."
The Ireland U21s are also in the middle of an important period, with many of the squad based in the UK, Head Coach
Noel King has organised the game against the Irish amateurs to get a closer look to some of the talent playing in the League of Ireland.
Rory Feely and Alex O'Hanlon are among them.
"A lot of good players are playing at home and it's an opportunity to see them up close and identify players who can offer something to the wider group for the campaign ahead," said King.
"We've a tough qualifying campaign to come but there are opportunities there for players who are willing to step up to the challenge to go out and make an impression."
Liam Buckley agrees with the Ireland U21 boss.
"Noel is totally right. There a quite a few players in our league who are good enough to play for their country and also make the move across the water to the UK. Some have been away and come home, while others are maybe completing their education first while playing in the League of Ireland."
"Rory did very well for us when he moved up from our U19s midway through last season, while Alex has looked really good in pre season since signing. I'm looking forward to seeing the game on Saturday."
Kick off in the AUL Complex on Saturday (Feb 11th) is at 2pm.
Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages over the next week for updates on how the lads are getting on.