Ireland U19 manager Tom Mohan believes his team can do the nation proud at next month’s Euros, despite losing a glut of players. Reaching the finals at this age group is perhaps the most difficult challenge under the Uefa umbrella. Only seven nations join hosts Armenia and Ireland. The likes of Germany, England, and The Netherlands were unable to make a finals spot.
The downside to becoming the first Ireland team since 2011 to qualify is the absence of an international window to safeguard his selection. Instead, when the Irish open their tournament on July 15 against Norway in Yerevan, several Irish starlets will be elsewhere on pre-season tours with their clubs.
Definitely beyond Mohan’s reach for the finals are top scorer Adam Idah of Norwich, Stoke’s Nathan Collins and Aaron Connolly from Brighton. Manuel Pellegrini wants Conor Coventry to be part of West Ham’s friendlies.
A question mark also hangs over Troy Parrott’s availability. The great hope of Irish football is just back from injury and unlikely to be risked by Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino. To compound matters, Lee O’Connor could be part of Man United’s pre-season plans.
Still, Mohan’s marvels recovered from the loss of four players to Stephen Kenny’s U21s in March to win all three of their elite stage qualifiers, adding to three previous victories in the first phase. The manager has assessed the depth of his options in the last three days by staging a training camp featuring mostly U17 and League of Ireland talent.
He is still waiting on updates from clubs before finalising his 20-man squad for Yerevan on July 9. After the Norway opener, they meet France (July 18) and Czech Republic (July 21) aiming for a top-two finish to clinch a semi-final spot.
“There’s no doubt it should be,” said Mohan when asked if an international window should cover the finals. You want everyone available after working to reach the finals. [But] it’s a sign that our players are doing well at their clubs.
“We’ll still be confident that our squad can meet the challenge.”