Zefi and Curtis to shine as Ireland U17s kick off Euros campaign in Cork

By David Donnelly

Republic of Ireland MU17 v Andorra MU17, Turner's Cross, 7pm

The Republic of Ireland under-17s kick off their European Championship qualifying campaign in Cork this evening as they host Andorra in the first game of their mini-group.

Turners' Cross is the venue for all three of Ireland's game - the remaining games will take place at the Mardyke - with North Macedonia and Poland completing the line-up.

Ireland are top seeds and hot favourites to reach the elite stage, the draw for which takes place early next year, and nine points from nine could guarantee seeding there.

The bulk of the squad recently faced Mexico under-22s in a friendly double-header in Cork, with each side winning one game.

Among the top performers in those games were former Shamrock Rovers and current Internazionale striker Kevin Zefi, and St Patrick's Athletic defender Ben Curtis.

“They’re massive games and everyone is looking forward to them,” said defender and Cork native Cathal Heffernan.

“The buzz in the camp is great. I feel if we get a good week’s training in we can go out there and get the result

“We were only together a few weeks ago for the games against Mexico and there’s a real togetherness in the camp.

"Most of us have been together since the Under-15s but even if there’s new players in the group they’re made to feel welcome and settle in quickly.”

Goalkeepers: Fintan Doherty (Derry City), Conor Walsh (Sligo Rovers)

Defenders: Luke Browne (Shelbourne), Sam Curtis (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Cathal Heffernan (Cork City), Ruadhan Kane (Klub Kildare), Daniel Kelly (Sligo Rovers), Luke O’Brien (St. Patrick’s Athletic)

Midfielders: Justin Ferizaj (Shamrock Rovers), Gavin Hodgkin (Shelbourne), Darius Lipsivc (St. Patrick’s Athletic), James McManus (Bohemians), Rocco Vata (Celtic)

Forwards: Trent Kone Doherty (Derry City), Liam Murray (Cork City), Caden McLoughlin (Villareal), Alex Nolan (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Mark O’Mahony (Cork City), Franco Umeh (Cork City), Kevin Zefi (Inter Milan)


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