Republic of Ireland under 17 manager Tom Mohan has defended the FAI’s policy of recruiting English born players, who are eligible to put on the green shirt.
The FAI’s London based scout, Mark O’Toole, plays a crucial role for Ireland according to Mohan. “The rules are there, we abide by them and we are always looking for quality,” Mohan, who is preparing for next month’s UEFA European under 17 Championships, said.
“We are a small nation, so you have to look at the players available, bring them in, give them an opportunity and take it from there.
“If there are players over there who are eligible for us, you have to make the most of it. They are players who are keen to play for Ireland and are enthusiastic.
“Mark O’Toole is very useful to us. He has his finger on the pulse all over the south of England. Mark does massive work and continues to do so, like our other scouts over there.
“We have Gerry Murphy, Mick Martin and Don Givens; we are active in England. There are a lot of very good people.”
Mohan, once a competent midfielder with Finn Harps for several seasons, is adamant that ‘good’ players are being produced.
“I feel we are producing good players,” Mohan stated. “I’ve been working with the under 17 squad for the last eight seasons and there have been very good players, such as Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, and Greg Cunningham, to come through.
“It’s so difficult for youngsters to break into English first-team football compared to 15 years, ago with the influx of players coming into the Premier League at a younger age.
“But these are a good group, with a lot of good technical and attacking abilities. The confidence they will get from actually qualifying will be massive.
“Then, when we get to the finals and they see the professionalism; I suppose, everything that goes with it increases their profile.
“You are going to have the cream of Europe there at under 17 level and players will always learn from that experience.”