St Patrick’s Athletic have pulled off a major coup with the recruitment of wonderkid Sam Curtis from rivals Shamrock Rovers.
The centre-back became Rovers’ youngest-ever debutant last year at 14 when featuring for the First Division team against Athlone Town.
The Navan native, who has been on trial at AS Roma and Bayer Leverkusen, also captained Ireland’s U15s at the age of 13. He turns 16 this December.
Curtis – who lists Roy Keane as one of his icons – trained with St Pat’s this weekend and is in line to join a flock of teens being blooded by first-team boss Stephen O’Donnell.
Sam’s older brother Ben, also an underage Ireland international, made the same move between the Dublin neighbours earlier this year.
Champions Rovers and St Pat’s are deadlocked lat the top of the table and square up at Tallaght Stadium next Friday.
Josh Keeley (18), Kian Corbally (17) and Tommy Longergan (17) were handed debuts in Friday’s FAI Cup win over Bray Wanderers, while 16-year-old Adam Murphy should join them on the list of graduates once he recovers fully from injury.
French club Stade de Reims recently swooped to capture Saints gem Glory Nzingo.
O’Donnell feels such continental transfers will become more commonplace, given Brexit rules prevent UK clubs recruiting Irish players until they reach 18.