U19s boss eyes Euro finals spot
IRELAND U19 boss Sean McCaffrey will have to manage without Manchester City star Greg Cunningham for the European Championship qualifiers later this month as the defender is required by the senior side, writes Aidan Fitzmaurice.
The Irish U19s play England, Bosnia and host nation Ukraine in the elite phase of the qualifiers, with the winners of that four-team group advancing to the finals in France in July -- a stiff task for the Irish given that Ukraine are the holders of the U19 title after beating England in the final last year.
Cunningham is eligible for the U19s but the Galway lad, in action for the senior side in a training game in Dublin last night, is being kept in Ireland for senior duties as Giovanni Trapattoni is short of cover at left back due to injuries to Kevin Kilbane and Stephen Ward.
Injury prevents Rob Kiernan (Watford), Gearoid Morrissey (Cork) and Blackburn duo Callum O'Connor and Aaron Doran from travelling to Ukraine, while Gavin Gunning is on duty with Rotherham in the promotion play-offs.
"Many of these lads have experienced playing at a major finals tournament two years ago and their desire to clinch two qualifications in succession is huge," said McCaffrey as some of the U19 side featured for the U17s at the Euro finals two years ago.
"Conor Clifford has captained Chelsea to the FA Youth Cup title while Conor Henderson has twice been on the bench for Arsenal. There's plenty of creativity.
"It would a memorable achievement for them to qualify considering the tough hand we've been dealt. All we're concentrating on is getting something from the first match against England."
U19 squad: Ger Hanley (Mervue), Ian McLoughlin (Ipswich), Richie Towell (Celtic), John Dunleavy (Wolves), Andy Boyle (UCD), Shaun Timmins (Birmingham), Sean McGinty (Man Utd), Shane McEleney (Derry C), Conor Clifford (Chelsea), Conor Henderson (Arsenal), Conor Hourihane
(Sunderland), Daniel Kearns (West Ham), Jimmy Keohane (Wexford Y), Robbie Brady (Man Utd), Ronan Murray (Ipswich), Jamil Adam (Barnsley), Joe Mason (Plymouth), Harry Crawford (Southend).