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Friday 19 July 2019

Green shoots from Irish moves

Barca-bound Barry a loss to Ireland but Mandroiu could get his move

Louie Barry in action for the Republic of Ireland during the U16 Victory Shield match against Scotland at Mounthawk Park in Traleelast November
Louie Barry in action for the Republic of Ireland during the U16 Victory Shield match against Scotland at Mounthawk Park in Traleelast November

It should be the good news story of the year in Irish soccer - a young talent who has played for Ireland at underage level signing a three-year deal with Barcelona.

Sadly, it looks as if Louie Barry's appearance for the Ireland U16s against Scotland last November will be the last time he's seen in a green jersey as the 16-year-old forward, who has left his local club West Brom to move to Barca on a three-year deal, appears to be committed to his native England now.

Barry's most recent international game was for England's U16s last February and, having been forced to prise Jack Grealish and Declan Rice away from the FAI's clutches after a chase, it's hard to see the FA letting an English-born player who is on the books of Barca go to the Irish camp.

Still, there are some positive signs to emerge from the Irish-related dealings on the transfer market this summer.

We will struggle for Irish players to repeat those heady days of 2002/2003 when Robbie Keane and Damien Duff commanded fees in excess of £10million.

The most expensive Irish mover this summer is likely to be Callum Robinson, who yesterday left Preston's pre-season training camp in Cork to complete his move to a Premier League club, believed to be Sheffield United, for a fee of around £6m.

But Robinson aside, there have already been cases of Irish players being upwardly mobile: Luca Connell has done well to swap League One football with Bolton for Celtic (though Connell wasn't in their squad for the midweek Champions League win in Bosnia).

And the patience and hard work of the injury-cursed goalkeeper Stephen Henderson has been rewarded with a move from the 'Bomb Squad' at Nottingham Forest to the Premier League, to Crystal Palace.

Glenn Whelan, surprisingly released by Aston Villa last month, has a batch of offers on the table from Championship sides who feel he has something to offer.

Competing

His former club, Sheffield Wednesday, are now competing with the likes of Bristol City and newly-promoted Charlton, Whelan spurning offers from clubs in Greece and Turkey to stay closer to home.

Agent of Irish players have been busy already this summer, with 34 moves completed for players eligible for the Republic - and there are more deals to be done.

Some have made cross- channel moves, in both directions, with Andy Boyle leaving the UK to move home to Dundalk while Ali Reghba (Bohemians to Leicester City), Aaron Bolger (Shamrock Rovers to Cardiff City) and James Furlong (Rovers to Brighton) are beginning the next stage of their careers.

There is already good news for Bolger, as he's been brought to the USA by Cardiff for their pre-season tour, a vote of confidence from manager Neil Warnock that the former Hoops man has outlived his time in their U23 squad.

And the League of Ireland remains a fertile breeding ground for talent. Bohemians have already rejected an offer of £30,000 from Wimbledon for Ireland U19 cap Andy Lyons.

Even in the short space of time since his superb display in Wednesday's friendly against Chelsea, a 1-1 draw, a number of Championship clubs have expressed an interest in fellow Gypsy Daniel Mandroiu, who is contracted to Bohs until 2020.

And if that interest results in concrete offers, Bohs could have a big call to make.

Budget

Current Ireland U21 defender Liam Scales is certain to leave UCD, but Bristol Rovers' bid to sign him has been held up as their Irish-born manager Graham Coughlan has to get rid of players to free up his budget before he can sign Scales, and that delay has alerted other clubs, with Portsmouth now very keen on Scales.

Most of those Irish deals have been between UK clubs, with Jake Carroll moving from England's fourth tier (Cambridge) to the SPL (Motherwell), while Conor Masterson hopes that his career can kick on with QPR after his exit from Liverpool.

But others have looked further afield with intriguing moves to Holland (Liam Kelly), Bulgaria (Graham Carey), Australia (Jay O'Shea) and even India (Donegal lad Carl McHugh), while Cillian Sheridan has moved back to Europe (Israel) from New Zealand.

And this is a nervous time for some ex-internationals.

David Forde, Wes Hoolahan, Paul McShane, Marc Wilson and Darron Gibson are all club-less.

Hoolahan is to join Cambridge United next week, while Anthony Stokes has ended his time in Iran half-way through a two-deal with with Tractor Sazi.

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