Five Inishowen players have made it down to the last 37 of the Ireland junior international squad due to take part in UEFA Regional Cup qualifiers in September.
A final squad of 20 will travel to Romania for the qualifiers but first they must impress in the intervening five training sessions and game against Northern Ireland.
Benny McLaughlin (Culdaff), Matthew Henry (Greencastle), Matthew Byrne (Glengad), Malachy McDermott and Peter Doherty from Ulster Senior League champions Cockhill Celtic are those vying for a spot on the plane.
Diarmuid O’Brien, secretary of the Inishowen league, hailed the inclusion of three players from the league in Benny McLaughlin, Matthew Henry and Matthew Byrne.
“It’s a fabulous boost for the league and it’s every players dream to go out and represent their national team. The Regions Cup is a top class competition played with some of the best talent in Europe,” O’Brien told the Inish Times.
“From our perspective we have done well in the Oscar Traynor the past few years reaching three finals and were lucky enough to win one. Three lads from our league have made the provisional squad which will be cut to twenty for the tournament.
“Matthew Byrne is a great defender who has already represented Ireland at amateur and junior level. While Benny McLaughlin and Matthew Henry are two quality, explosive players,” the Inishowen League secretary stated.
The fact that three players have been selected from the league shows the quality that plays week in, week out across the pitches in Inishowen.
“Our league is a very solid base for players and these players being called up for trials can be used as a tool to promote the quality from within our league. It just shows that the younger players here have a pathway to play with their local clubs, that they don’t have to leave to get call up’s for these international trials.
Neither O’Brien nor the players involved are under any illusions about the size of the task at hand such is the calibre of the player involved in the squad.
“The players will be under no illusions about the high standard of players that will be in the squad looking for these places. The players are capable, more than capable. Now it’s up to them to use the training sessions and the match to impress the manager and make the final squad. There is a need to perform and impress the management as it is them who will pick the final squad,” O’Brien concluded.
Ireland have been drawn in a qualifying group with England, Slovakia and Buzau of Romania.
Qualifying games take place from September 16th to 22nd with the eight group winners progressing to the tournament proper which will take place over the last two weeks of June in 2019.
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