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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 28 February, 2020

'I was extremely impressed' - Mick McCarthy singles out Ireland U21 duo for praise

Aaron Connolly and Jayson Molumby both caught the eye in Tallaght on Friday.

Aaron Connolly has impressed at underage level for Ireland.
Aaron Connolly has impressed at underage level for Ireland.
Image: TGSPHOTO/Paul Dennis/INPHO

Updated at 17.25

MICK MCCARTHY SAYS he would be tempted to call up a few Ireland U21 players in normal circumstances, as they impressed in the win over Armenia on Friday night at Tallaght Stadium.

The Ireland boss and his coaching staff were at last week’s game, as Stephen Kenny’s side made it two wins from two in their qualification campaign.

McCarthy suggested the fact that his side’s upcoming friendly with Bulgaria coincided with the U21 team’s important qualifier away to Sweden was the main reason why he was reluctant to promote some of their players.

“Have they got a qualifier tomorrow? Then why on earth would I call them in? I just think that would be wrong of me. The 21s want to qualify for a competition,” he said.

Jayson Molumby — the Brighton youngster currently on loan at Millwall — earned the man-of-the-match award for his eye-catching display in midfield.

Another Brighton player, Aaron Connolly, also earned widespread praise for his performance, after setting up Troy Parrott’s match-winning goal and regularly tormenting the opposition full-back with his pace and trickery down the wing.

I was extremely impressed, certainly by Connolly – I thought he was the pick of the bunch,” McCarthy said. “Molumby as well. Having a soft spot for centre-backs, I liked the both of them [Conor Masterson and Dara O'Shea]. They were both competitive and both can play, both can pass the ball.

“But certainly Connolly, he was the one that caught the eye. Connolly and Molumby, I thought, were excellent.”

McCarthy added that it would ultimately be more beneficial for the players to be involved in the competitive fixture against Sweden, rather than in tomorrow night’s friendly with Bulgaria.

“I’m not sure that if I play them in a friendly against Bulgaria, it will tell me that they can compete in a game against Georgia away, or Switzerland away, or Denmark at home.

“It’s a competitive game against Sweden and I’m sure I’ll learn more from that than I would in a friendly.

I hope they play, certainly, playing in their teams [at club level]. I hope they give me that dilemma, that problem when they are playing.

“But I keep going back to it — I’m not sure that Georgia away, Switzerland away, Denmark at home, they’re big games. And of course, it’s always the case that if I was to do that and they didn’t play well, that question would be asked.

“So I kind of trust myself and [the coaching staff] — we know who the best players are and they should be playing. I’d like to have the dilemma, of course I would — if they were playing in Champions League games and Premier League games, but at the moment, they’re not.” 

Originally published at 13.05

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Paul Fennessy

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