Doolin: Greece game key

REPUBLIC of Ireland U19 head coach Paul Doolin has named an 18-man squad for the UEFA Championship finals which take place in Bucharest, Romania from July 20 to August 1.

To help acclimatise to the heat in Romania, the squad first head to Rome for a week-long training camp at a base which senior manager Giovanni Trapattoni helped to source.

In Group A at the finals, Ireland will face Greece (July 20), the Czech Republic (23) and hosts Romania (26) while Group B will be contested by Spain, Turkey, Serbia and Belgium. Two teams from each group progress to the semi-finals, on July 29, with the final taking place on August 1.

“Greece is the first game and the most important because if you don’t win it or get something out of it, it makes things difficult,’’ Doolin said. “Our aim is to get out of the group and then we’ll see what happens from there. Confidence and belief have to be good. You have to be not cocky and arrogant. We have a chance, of course we have a chance. If you get a bit of luck, don’t have many hiccups, hopefully we can get out of the group and after that anything can happen.”

It might, as he admits, be Doolin’s first taste of tournament football as a coach but he thinks the habits he has acquired in a long and distinguished League of Ireland career should stand him in good stead.

“I operate a certain way at club level and it’s no different here,” he said.

“To be honest with you, I’ve done it at Cork, Drogheda, UCD, and in European football, and I’m doing it the same way now. I think organisation has been huge. All those years that people said I was a defensive coach, I always said it was organisation — and I think it’s more to the fore now in football. We don’t have the technically gifted players from around the world, we have to do it other ways. But some of our football has been fantastic too. We’ve scored 17 goals and conceded five in 10 games which isn’t bad.”

In other news, Airtricity League XI manager Damien Richardson has confirmed that former Republic of Ireland captain Kenny Cunningham will be his assistant for the forthcoming Dublin Super Cup on July 30 and 31. Richardson believes the former international defender will prove a real asset to the Airtricity League XI for the tournament which sees them come up against the might of Inter Milan, Man City and Celtic.

“I’ve come to know Kenny quite well through working with him for RTÉ Radio and I’ve found him to be a very positive and calm individual,” said Richardson. “As an ex-Republic of Ireland international team captain, he’ll know exactly what will be required in a high calibre competition of this nature.”

Said Cunningham: “I’ve done my UEFA A licence and Pro Licence in Dublin and have come to know many of the managers in the league through that so I’ve been up to speed with what has been going on in the Airtricity League. This year I’ve also attended a lot more games through my involvement with RTÉ’s MNS show and I’ve really enjoyed getting to the games myself and learning more about the league.”

Meanwhile, it’s understood that a disciplinary hearing will take place today in the case of the alleged racist abuse of Derry City striker Eamon Zayed in a recent game against Shamrock Rovers though it’s not expected that a verdict will be announced for at least another five days.

Republic of Ireland U19 squad for European Championship Finals: Samir Carruthers (Aston Villa), Matt Doherty (Wolves), John Egan (Sunderland), Kane Ferdinand (Southend United), Anthony Forde (Wolves), Jeff Hendrick (Derby County), Kevin Knight (N/A), Aaron McCarey (Wolves), Sean McDermott (Arsenal), Conor Murphy (Bray Wanderers), Sean Murray (Watford), John O’ Sullivan (Blackburn Rovers), Anthony O’Connor (Blackburn Rovers), Joe Shaughnessy (Aberdeen), Connor Smith (Watford), Declan Walker (Wrexham), Eoin Wearen (West Ham), Derrick Williams (Aston Villa).

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