Monday 6 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C Baba celebrates a goal for Castlebar Celtic.
# One for the future
Remember the name: Fulham set to win race for Ireland U19 star Noe Baba
The highly-rated Castlebar Celtic defender is on the verge of joining the Cottagers.

FULHAM LOOK TO have beaten a raft of top clubs for the signature of one of Irish football’s brightest prospects.

Noe Baba, a 16-year-old defender from Castlebar, is currently the country’s most sought-after youngster and has spent time with the likes of Manchester United and Celtic in recent months.

However, despite being paid a visit by United’s Youth Development Officer Brian McClair earlier this year and coming close to joining the SPL champions back in August, he has reportedly turned them both down to agree to join the Cottagers.

Originally from Cameroon, Baba moved to Mayo with his family as a child and has come through the ranks at Castlebar Celtic. He became the first African-born player to captain Ireland when he led out the U17s and was subsequently called up to Paul Doolin’s U19s squad where he featured against Luxembourg in October.

Speaking to TheScore this afternoon, Castlebar Celtic PRO Noel Coll spoke glowingly of the player but said that, while he believes it is Baba’s intention to join Fulham, an agreement has not yet been confirmed to the club.

He’s a lovely lad, he comes from a good family,” Coll said. “I couldn’t speak highly enough of him. He’s a bright lad and would be going to university if it wasn’t for football.

“As far as we are concerned, nothing has been agreed yet. There is no question of his ability so it’s not about trials. It’s about working out a deal that suits both parties and his father will have the final say.”

The Castlebar Celtic U17 team with Baba (centre, holding cup) Credit: Castlebar Celtic

Castlebar Celtic will be entitled to compensation and are hoping to keep links with the player by agreeing an ‘add-ons’ deal which will see them receive payments when Baba achieves goals such as earning a full international cap etc.

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Coll adds that it is huge boost for football in a county which is dominated by the GAA.

“We believe that he can go a long way, so don’t want to cut our ties with the players. It’s massive for any club. Especially for a club in the west of Ireland. GAA is still the number one sport in this part of the country and we play second fiddle.

“There are players who wouldn’t be far behind Noe in terms of talent but have chosen GAA instead.

It’s great exposure for the club. At the end of the day, people like myself are trying to create an Irish international and to be part of that would be special.

“There hasn’t been a full international from Mayo in a long time. It’s still a massive GAA county. Maybe it’s something the FAI will have to look into.”

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