The Republic of Ireland Under-18 squad arrived in Sweden today in preparation for the Falkenberg Four Nation tournament. Ireland kick off the tournament against Slovakia tomorrow (kick off 3.30 Irish time) before clashes with Norway and Sweden in a tournament that manager Noel O'Reilly believes will be of valuable experience to the panel.
He said: "It's a tournament with three good matches for us and will be of a great benefit to the players. The squad has a few changes from the original 18, but we're still coming here hoping to win. The players here have a chance to push for regular places and we'll certainly work hard and have a good shape to us. The nucleus of the squad won in the Hungarian tournament (at Under-17 level) last season so we have some experience."
There are five uncapped players in the squad, Sligo Rovers' Gary Cullen, Seamus McCabe of Dundalk, Portsmouth's Marc Wilson, Peter Castle of Reading and goalkeeper Michael Keohane from IMG Soccer Academy in Florida. Cullen and McCabe have been well-watched by O'Reilly and his scouts for the last number of years while Wilson was called in after declaring for the Republic of Ireland after previously playing for Northern Ireland. Former England schools defender Castle, now in the Reading first team squad, has been watched on several occasions by O'Reilly and his scouts and was also called in after he declared for Ireland while Keohane's inclusion comes after O'Reilly's contacts in the USA brought the goalkeeper to his attention.
Following Tuesday's tournament starter against Slovakia, Ireland face Norway on Thursday (kick off 3.30) and finish the tournament against hosts Sweden on Saturday (kick off 2.00).
Squad: Randolph (Charlton Athletic), Keohane (IMG Soccer Academy, USA), Stapleton (Reading), Chambers (Shelbourne), Morris (Leeds United), Wilson (Portsmouth), Lordan (Ipswich Town), Dennehy (Shelbourne), Hayes (Reading), Clarke (Ipswich Town), McMahon (Home Farm), Kearney (Everton), Reilly (Burnley), Castle (Reading), McCabe (Dundalk), Meehan (Maymount), Synott (Ipswich Town), Cullen (Sligo Rovers).
Filed by Mark O'Neill-Cummins