Given the recent negative publicity and disappointment in the FAI it would be a good time to talk about the next generation of Irish football and mention 3 of the top talented youngsters that could become big names in the world of football and improve and make the Republic of Ireland national football team a much better side and become a more respected and bigger team in the years to come. There are a lot of good young Irish players making a name for themselves and breaking into their clubs first team squads. The list had to be broken down to 3 but that was difficult to decide when there is so much quality to choose from, some honourable mentions are: Michael Obafemi (Southampton), Adam Idah (Norwich City) Zach Elbouzedi (Waterford FC), Connor Ronan (Wolves on loan at Dunajska Streda in Slovakia), Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Jason Knight (Derby County), Jonathan Afolabi (Celtic), Gavin Bazunu (Manchester City), Dara O’Shea (West Brom), Jayson Molumby (Millwall) and Luca Connell (Celtic).
Now in no particular order we take a look at the top 3 talented youngsters in Irish football.
The 19 year old From Waterford is a defender who can play anywhere in defence usually at right back and he likes to bring the ball up the right side of the pitch and is sometimes involved in the lead up to goals. Lee already known by a good few Irish fans as he has already made his debut at right back for the Republic of Ireland and played very well even getting an assist in a 3-1 win over New Zealand in November which took place in the Aviva stadium. The youngster joined the Manchester United youth academy in 2016 when he moved from Villa FC in Waterford. His time in Manchester went very well as he captained the under 19s and under 23s even getting to play in the UEFA youth league as well as getting called up to the senior team for a match but unfortunately didn’t get any game time. Lee won the under 15 and under 19 player of the year awards for The Republic of Ireland and he was a key part to the Irish sides amazing under 19 European Championships and under 21 Toulon tournament campaigns in the Summer of 2019 as they reached the semi finals of the euros and finished 4th place in the Toulon tournament. Lee’s great summer led to an interesting move to Celtic and a Republic of Ireland debut. Hopefully he will be seen leading the Republic of Irelands defence in the next few years.
Probably one of the best and well known hottest prospects on this list Troy Parrott is a 17 year old striker from Dublin who has been compared to legend Robbie Keane because he is a target man who always seems to find the back of the net. Troy started his footballing days in Belvedere FC Before being scouted by Spurs in 2017. Troy has already represented The Republic of Ireland at under 17, 19, 21 and senior level at the age of 17 which is unbelievable. Troy was doing very well at Spurs in the summer scoring a lot of the time even against Barcelona in the UEFA youth league but unfortunately Troy was ruled out of the under 19s and 17 Euros and the Toulon tournament through injury. In September Troy made his debut for the under 21’s in a win against Armenia in which he scored his first goal and in the next fixture against Sweden he scored a brace in a 3-1 win. In November Troy made his senior international debut for The Republic of Ireland assisting a goal in a 3-1 over New Zealand. Troy’s good form earned him his Premier League debut for Spurs under Jose Mourinho when he replaced Dele Alli in the 85th minute in a 5-0 win over Burnley. We will surely be seeing Troy Parrott scoring goals in an Ireland jersey and becoming a great player in the years to come as he is only 17 and has achieved so much already.
The 19 year old striker was born in Galway and started playing football for Maree/Oranmore FC. When Aaron was 11 he moved to Mervue United. After 6 years at Mervue Aaron signed for Brighton in 2016. In 2017 Aaron was the top scorer with 7 goals in 6 games for The Republic of Ireland in the Euro under 17 championship qualifiers. Aaron Connolly scored 11 goals for Brighton’s under 23 team in the Premier League 2 in the 2018/19 season before an unsuccessful loan spell at Luton Town where he only played 2 games. After playing for the Ireland under 19s Aaron was called up to Stephen Kenny’s under 21 Toulon tournament squad where they finished 4th and Aaron played very well scoring 1 goal in a 4-1 win over China.
Aaron’s impressive Summer earned him a start for Brighton against Bristol Rovers and he scored his first professional goal for Brighton. His good performance against Bristol earned him a start in the premier league game against Spurs later that week and he played very well as he scored his first 2 Premier League goals to help Brighton beat Spurs. The international break came by and Aaron was called up to Mick McCarthy’s Republic of Ireland senior squad for the crucial games against Georgia and Switzerland. Aaron came on for his debut against Georgia and earned his first start against Switzerland playing very well in both the games injecting a bit of pace and coming close to scoring with a few chances but couldn’t help Ireland to any goals or wins. After a positive few months for Aaron Connolly he has become a starter for Brighton’s first team and continues to play very well. Hopefully we will see more of him in an Irish shirt in the future.
There is clearly a lot of young talent ready to rise for The Republic of Ireland and some could possibly even become one of the best players that Ireland have ever had and become great players in world football. There is no doubt that the future of football in Ireland is in good hands!