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UCD prospect Farrugia picks Ireland ahead of Malta, France and Spain

Stephen Kenny also clarified Michael O’Connor’s allegiances.

Neil Farrugia (right) in action for the Irish U21s on Wendesday night.
Neil Farrugia (right) in action for the Irish U21s on Wendesday night.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

EXCITING UCD WINGER Neil Farrugia is eager to play for Ireland despite being eligible for Malta, France, and Spain, according to Irish U21s manager Stephen Kenny. 

Farrugia, who created the only goal and was among the most impressive performers for Kenny’s home-based U21s selection in a win against the Irish amateurs on Wednesday night, has already been subject to interest from Malta. 

“Neil’s a very interesting player, very exciting”, Kenny told The42. 

[There aren't] too many left-footed left wingers who beat their man on the outside now. You get a lot of players who play on the opposite side and like to come inside but he can. He has genuine pace, genuine work ethic and can get up and down all day. He qualifies for four countries, he said to me. France, Malta and Spain. So, he had an approach from Malta as well but he’s committed, he wants to play for Ireland.

“I said to him, I hope I shouldn’t be expecting a call from Didier Deschamps! He wants to play for Ireland.” 

Farrugia, among the domestic prospects name-checked by Kenny at his unveiling last November, was born in Paris to an Irish mother and French father, and told The42 last year that he moved to Dublin when he was “seven or eight.” 

Although he attended St Andrew’s College, he forwent their preponderance on rugby and hockey for football, and was named FAI Schools International Player of the Year for 2017. 

Kenny also clarified that Dundalk-born striker Michael O’Connor, whom he coached at Oriel Park, wants to play with the Republic despite giving an interview to the Belfast Telegraph last year saying he would declare for Northern Ireland. 

Michael O'Connor Michael O'Connor. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I don’t know about that interview. Michael wants to play here.  I haven’t actually read that interview, to be honest I don’t know. That’s not what he says to me. Michael wants to play here. He’s desperate to play. He is Dundalk through and through. I don’t know any more than that.”

Kenny will unveil a full squad in March for his first qualifying game in charge, against Luxembourg in Tallaght on 24 March. He confirmed that the number of home-based players from this week’s camp in the mix for the full squad is “still in the balance”, and that the fast-tracking of younger players like Troy Parrott will likely hinge on whether they will be guaranteed to play. 

“They had a sort of unwritten code if they think someone is going to be on the bench…if you can move them up, move them up, if you think they’re going to be on the bench let them play, you know. I respect that. By and large that is a good code.” 

Following a tough Six Nations opening defeat to England, Joe Schmidt will look to regroup against a dangerous Scotland side. This week, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey are joined by Bernard Jackman to assess the damage of last weekend and look ahead to the clash in Murrayfield:


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Gavin Cooney

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