Everything you want to know

The European Under-21 Championship is played on the first leg

Republic of Ireland – Israel, Tallaght Stadium, 7 pm


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Jim Crawford traversed a steady path through what is already Ireland’s historic campaign to reach the European Championship playoff in this age group, and the coach did so by selecting a relatively stable team throughout.

However, early injuries plagued the tightly knit group ahead of the pivotal play-off against Israel. Liam Kerrigan of Como was one of the trusted lieutenants on either side of the midfield during the final window, but a cruciate ligament injury means the Sligo native will face months on the sidelines.

The absences of Luca Connell, Mark McGuinness and David Harrington were also confirmed on Monday, with Burnley’s Dara Costello and Anselmo Garcia McNulty of NAC Breda and St. Patrick’s sports duo Adam O’Reilly and David Odomoso filling the quartet’s seats. Midfielder Gavin Kilkenny was among those who were also left out prior to this when the first team was named.

But much of the focus in the crowd was on including Aaron Connolly. Nearly three years ago, the Gallagher was quickly transferred from Stephen Kenny’s vibrant under-21 squad to the Irish first team after emerging on the scene with Brighton against Tottenham and it looked like a career path that would leave underage international football in the rear view mirror. .

Lee O’Connor, right, and Aaron Connolly in training at Faggot

This is no longer the case with Connolly at the start of what he hopes will be a fresh start at club level with Venice in Italy’s second tier on loan.

But the 22-year-old’s talent is undeniable and Crawford hopes he will prove to be an alternative card for the Boys in Green, although there is an element of risk to the call-up. As former Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers said this week: RTÉ Football Podcast.

take I acknowledge the need to recalibrate Earlier this summer, the player said all the right things about the opportunity with the Under-21 team.

“It’s just to show people that I don’t take playing for Ireland for granted,” he said He said this week.

“Maybe some people have had that perception over the past few years. It’s an opportunity to help the under-21 team qualify for the first time ever. [major] Championship and to show people what I can do.”

Ireland national under-21 team

goalkeepers: Brian Maher (Derry City), Luke McNolas (Sligo Rovers), David Odomoso (St Patrick’s Athletic) Defenders: Iran Kachin (Derby County), Veste Ibossel (Udinese), Anselmo Garcia McNulty (NAC Breda, on loan from Wolfsburg) ), Andy Lyons (Shamrock Rovers), Jake O’Brien (RWD Molenbeek, on loan from Crystal Palace), Lee O’Connor (Tranmere Rovers), Joe Redmond (St Patrick’s Athlete), Sean Rogan (Lincoln City)

Midfielders: Finn Azaz (Plymouth Argyle, on loan from Aston Villa), Conor Coventry (West Ham United), Dawson Defoe (MK Dons), Joe Hodge (Wolves), Adam O’Reilly (St Patrick’s Athletic), Will Smallbone (Stoke City) , on loan from Southampton), Ross Tierney (Motherwell)

Attackers: Aaron Connolly (Venice, on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion), Dara Costello (Burnley), Evan Ferguson (Brighton & Hove Albion), Joshua Caywood (MK Dons, on loan from Rotherham United), Ole O’Neill (Fulham), MEBO Odobico (Port Vale, on loan from West Ham United), Terrick Wright (Bradford City, on loan from Aston Villa).

History of making but more on the line

By reaching a European Championship playoff, the crop has already gone where no Irish Under-21 team has gone before. But reaching the final tournament to be hosted by Georgia and Romania next year would be an incredible feat for a generation that can’t already tap into talents like Troy Parrott, Gavin Pazonno, Nathan Collins and Jason Knight, who, while still qualified, are a big part of the older Kenny. picture.

Talking to RTÉ Sport again in May Ahead of the crucial triple match against Bosnia, Montenegro and Italy that helped secure second place in the qualifying group, Crawford did not underestimate what the major tournament experience would do to develop this wave of youth, citing the example of his illustrious assistant John O’Shea’s club and his international career.

“There is no doubt that we are talking to John about those experiences in those Irish teams who have ever done so well and how they served as a stepping stone to his personal career,” he said.

“It was great and I remember the Razmatas all over the country at the time it was happening. It was great and you want to do it again and we have a really good news story for U21s.

“But certainly from the players’ point of view, there is no doubt about that, when you play in high pressure matches against a high-quality European opponent, it will help you to benefit as a player. It will definitely be an incentive for you to go and become the best player possible.”

Israel is a tough test

Of course to get to next summer’s show, they’ll need to beat Israel on two legs.

While Israel has never played in a European Championship at an adult level, past generations of Under-21s made it to the final tournaments in 2007 as well as 2013 as hosts.

The current crop put Poland second in its qualifying group to finish second behind Germany. The table tops proved too far in both games for the Israelis (one should hardly add the 3-2 loss in Paderborn and the 1-0 defeat at home in March) but apart from those two games and the 1-0 defeat in Latvia, Israel is undefeated otherwise.

The four points gained against the Poles in two matches were decisive in the end.

Tactically, they often played 4-3-3 throughout the campaign including against San Marino last time, while also playing 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1.

Taking the trip to Tallaght first, their out-of-group record was initially good with 2-1 wins in Poland and Hungary, 3-2 losses in Germany and a routine defeat for San Marino.

But their last loss was on the road to Lativa. Ireland hopes they can do a similar performance before the boys at Green visit Israel for the return leg on Tuesday.

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