Paul Cleary (Waterford FC) makes a presentation to Blues player, Darryl Walsh on being named in the Irish U-17 European Championships squad along with Lee O’Connor (below). Photos: Noel Browne & Joe Evans.
The Republic of Ireland Under 17 squad have arrived in Croatia ahead of their opening game of the UEFA Under 17 European Championship Finals with both Lee O’Connor and Darryl Walsh part of Colin O’Brien 18-man final panel.
Ireland, who will kickstart their campaign against Serbia on Thursday afternoon, will be hoping that they can put in a shift that will see them qualify for the quarterfinals of the tournament and O’Brien’s men are paired with kingpins Germany and Bosnia.
With Lee O’Connor set to skipper the Irish side for the finals, it will be also a special week for Waterford FC Under 17 player Darryl Walsh, who was named in the squad. Speaking ahead of flying out to Croatia, the defender said, “I’m delighted to be named in the squad but we’ve got a tough enough group with Germany, Serbia and Bosnia.
“We done well out in Cyprus to win three games out of three to qualify but we have some massive games ahead of us in Croatia. We’re hoping that the three wins in the qualification campaign will give us the confidence to do well in the finals. We’ve nothing to fear and it’s just great to be part of a UEFA tournament finals.
COMPETING AT THE BIG TIME
“There is no reason why we can compete at the big time. We know that we have a tough group and it won’t be easy but our aim will be to finish in the top two to get out of the group. There is great quality in the squad and we’ve got to believe in ourselves.
“Lee O’Connor is also in the squad and he is doing really well at Manchester United but I’m looking forward to representing Waterford FC at the tournament finals. For me personally, it’s great to be in an Irish squad at a big tournament finals. From the age of five playing with a football in Portlaw to preparing for this is fantastic.
“It’s brilliant for everyone in the squad to represent their country at any tournament and it’s going to be proud moment for us all. We’re going out to give it our best shot and hopefully we can achieve a top two finish that will put us in the knockout stage.”