Ireland under 17s prepare for first qualifier at The Cross
The Republic of Ireland under 17s play the first of three games at Turner’s Cross this evening.
Colin O’Brien’s side face Andorra in their European Championship qualifier, where kick off is at 7pm.
The Boys in Green will also face North Macedonia on Sunday, followed by Poland on Tuesday.
There are four Cork City players in Colin O’Brien’s 20 player squad – defender Cathal Heffernan, along with forwards Liam Murray, Mark O’Mahony and Franco Umeh.
Heffernan says he’s eager to put on a good display in his hometown.
“They’re massive games and everyone is looking forward to them,” said the 16-year-old defender. “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.
“The fans were amazing against Mexico and to play in front of friends and family is an honour. Then add to that, you get to play in Turner’s Cross which is something you dream of when you grow up in Cork.”
For Cathal his international development is being aided by fellow Corkonian O’Brien and the defender praised his Head Coach.
He explained: “Colin has been really good with us, not just on the football side but the mental side when there’s added pressure. Colin is really good at helping us deal with that pressure and making sure we’re ready for that added exposure.
“We know there will be pressure in these games but the fans are going to play a massive part, we have to be ready as this is where it matters and they’re not friendlies. To have the fans there is going to be really good and we’re going to need them every step of the way, right from the first minute until to the last.
“Everyone is looking forward to testing themselves in competitive matches and embracing tournament football. We saw the EUROS over the summer and we’re so excited to be competing to play in a EUROS of our own.”