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Colin O’Brien

Colin O’Brien

SPORTSFILE

Colin O’Brien

Ireland U17 team boss Colin O'Brien reckons his side will relish the pressure that comes with being hosts for the European Championship finals next month.

For the first time since 1994, Ireland will host a major underage tournament, the Republic one of 16 nations to compete in the U17s tournament when it's run here from May 3-19.

The draw for the finals in Dublin last night put Ireland in Group A, along with Belgium, Greece and the Czech Republic.

O'Brien's side will play two of their group matches in Tallaght Stadium, a third in Waterford, and after the side went so close to success in the finals in England last year, O'Brien is eager to see how the crop of 2019 cope.

"Irish supporters will always get behind their team and that's what we'll be looking for them to do but people have got to beat in mind that this is going to be the players' first competitive games, for Ireland, in Ireland, and it happens to be the European finals," says O'Brien.

"So it is a big deal but we will be prepared and it's a great chance for players to propel themselves.

"It's the biggest thing for the players right now. It's the best of the best coming to Ireland, it really is.

"There'll be really high quality players and real high tempo matches so they'll have a great opportunity to test themselves against the best."

One puzzle for O'Brien is whether he can call on Tottenham starlet Troy Parrott.

The 17-year-old is eligible to play in the finals but getting him on board will not be straightforward. Parrott could also be asked to play at U21 and U19 levels this summer and as he's currently out due to injury, the final call could well be made by his club, Tottenham.

"He's eligible, I am always hopeful but we won't know for next couple of weeks. There's a bit of work to do with the club as well. Within the next two weeks we'll know exactly where we're at," added O'Brien, who will have Gavin Bazunu available.