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Ireland U17 Class of 2007: Where are they now

30 January 2012 42,650 views No Comment Written by Ronan

Back in November 2006, the FAI profiled Sean McCaffrey’s Republic of Ireland Under 17 squad for the 2006-2007 season, which had started well with the young Boys in Green qualifying top of their 2007 UEFA European Under-17 Championship First Stage Qualifying Group, beating Latvia and Azerbaijan, and drawing with Denmark. Unfortunately a 3-0 loss to Germany meant Ireland missed out on reaching the finals, despite beating Scotland and Greece. The young squad contained a lot of talent, but how did those X players progress over the last five years?

*U17 caps listed as of 6 November 2006.

Kieron Thorp
Born: 12/12/90.
Previous Club: Charlton Athletic
U17 caps: 6
Then: Crystal Palace Goalkeeper. Hails from Crawley in Sussex and qualifies for Ireland through his father, who was born in Ballina, County Mayo. Established himself as Ireland’s first choice-keeper during the 2005/6 season with of a string of good displays at U16 level. Kieron gave one of his best performances for Ireland U17’s in the scoreless draw against Denmark, the first game of the competitive season in Azerbaijan. Transferred to Crystal Palace from Charlton Athletic midway through the 2006/7 season.
Now: Eastbourne Town. Now the first choice keeper for the Isthmian League Division One South side, which is the eight level on the English football pyramid. Was voted the non-league club’s Player of the Year for the 2010-11 season.

David McGuire
U17 caps: 1.
Then: Shrewsbury Town Goalkeeper. English-born ‘keeper is highly-thought of at Shrewsbury Town. Got his first call-up to an Ireland squad for the double-friendly against Italy and performed well in his first start against the attacking-minded opponents.
Now: A goalkeeping coach at Shrewsbury Town Centre of Excellence, coaching young keepers from under 9 to under 13 level. Joined Newtown AFC in Wales in 2009, and Welshpool in 2010, but decided to focus on coaching instead.

Kevin O’Brien
Born: 02/11/90.
Previous clubs: Douglas Hall, Cobh Ramblers.
U17 caps: 0.
Then: Nottingham Forest Goalkeeper. This is Kevin’s third season playing for Ireland since he was introduced on the International scene at U15 level. Represented Ireland’s U18’s team already during the 2006/7 season – against Malta at Dalymount Park in August 2006. Glasgow Celtic and Nottingham Forest showed an interest in signing him and he chose to move to the City Ground in 2007. Had to withdraw from the squad for the friendly games against Italy after sustaining a broken wrist.
Now: Released from Nottingham Forest in 2009. Current whereabouts are unknown.

Gareth Matthews
Born: 13/02/90.
Previous club: Cherry Orchard.
U17 caps: 8.
Then: Norwich City. A strong, reliable full-back. Gareth transferred to Norwich City from Cherry Orchard in the Dublin District Schoolboys’ League (DDSL) after helping them win a domestic double in May 2006. An ever-present for the U17 team this season after giving a polished performance at right-back during the Hungarian International tournament in August 2006. Popped up to scored crucial goals against Azerbaijan and Italy.
Now: Returned to Ireland in 2008 to take up a sports scholarship at UCD, playing for the League of Ireland side. Joined Shelbourne in 2011, and played 22 league games for them last season.

Mark Nolan
Born: 10/05/90.
Previous clubs: Baldoyle United, Shelbourne.
U17 caps: 4.
Then: Glasgow Celtic Defender/midfielder. Mark comes from Donaghmede in North Dublin and is the son of Pat Nolan, a prominent ex-National League right back. A strong and tenacious player, Mark joined Glasgow Celtic in the summer of 2006. Was a regular for Ireland’s U16 team in the 2005/6 season and came into the reckoning this term during the UEFA qualifiers in Azerbaijan.
Now: Moved from Scotland to Bohemians after just one season at Celtic, and spent three years at Bohs before moving to Athlone Town. Has since joined Drogheda United.

Simon Dunne
Born: 13/1/90.
Previous clubs: Shelbourne.
U17 caps: 1.
Then: Glasgow Celtic Central-defender. Simon is a tall, robust defender who followed his ex-Shelbourne colleague Mark Nolan to Celtic. Was drafted into the squad for the UEFA 1st phase qualifiers in Azerbaijan as a late replacement for Kris Renton. Made his debut this season against Latvia when appearing as a substitute.
Now: Did not play for Celtic’s under-19s after November 2007, and there is no record of his playing career since. Perhaps injury forced him to retire from the game?

Laurence Gaughan
Born: 14/2/90.
U17 caps: 3.
Then: Liverpool Central-defender. Highly-rated Laurence qualifies for Ireland through his Ballina-born grandparents. Injury prevented him playing for Ireland’s U16 team during the 2005/6 season but was included in the squad for the UEFA 1st phase qualifiers in Azerbaijan after regaining his full fitness. One of Ireland’s heroes in their group win. Was unable to partake in the games against Italy because of Liverpool’s involvement in the FA Youth Cup.
Now: Joined Oxford United in 2010, after a two year spell at Celtic, and a couple of years of non-league football with Sheffield, Eastwood Town, and Ventura County Fusion. Made no appearances for Oxford, and joined Galway United last season.

Conor Kavanagh
Born: 08/01/90.
Previous club: Fairview Rangers.
U17 caps: 2.
Then: Blackburn Rovers Defender/midfield. Strong and skilful left-sided player, Conor can play in a range of positions. Comes from Limerick City and joined Blackburn Rovers in July 2006.
Now: Dropped down divisions to Clitheroe FC who were then in the Evo-Stick Northern Premier Division in 2009 after failing to break through at Blackburn. The club’s website no longer works, so there is no record of him at the club currently.

David Joyce
Born: 08/08/90.
Previous clubs: Castlebar Celtic.
U17 caps: 6.
Then: Birmingham City Central-defender. David was an integral part of the Mayo Schoolboys League team that reached the semi-final of SFAI Kennedy Cup in June 2004. A tremendous reader of the game, his talents as an ever-present in the Ireland U15 team soon gained notice and he agreed to join Birmingham City. Captained Ireland’s U17 team for the opening game of the Hungarian International tournament against Serbia and Montenegro in August 2006 and retained the honour thereafter. Injury curtailed his progress at that event but returned to play all three games of the UEFA 1st phase qualifiers. Was nominated for the eircom U16 player of the season award.
Now: Was at Birmingham City until 2010, but never played for the senior side. Joyce was loaned out to Brackley Town in 2009 where he impressed on a short-term loan deal. He returned to Ireland two years ago, where he lines out for Castlebar Mitchels Gaelic Football Team in Mayo.

Paul Honohan
Born: 06/03/90.
U17 caps: 6.
Then: Wilton Utd Central-defender. A Corkman who is accomplished in defence. A dominant figure in the air, his capabilities at set-pieces can prove of massive benefit to Ireland. Figured in the team as a mainstay at both U15 and U16 level. Aroused the interest of Wolves in England over the course of the 2005/6 season.
Now: Unfortunately did not make it as a professional footballer, and that move to Wolverhampton never materialised. Instead now plays senior football for Cork and Bishopstown.

Niall McArdle
Born: 22/03/90.
Previous clubs: Malahide United, Home Farm.
U17 caps: 2.
Then: Sunderland Central-defender. Niall comes from Malahide in Dublin and is a tall, left-footed defender who played in four U16 Internationals during the 2005/6 season. Signed for Sunderland in the summer of 2006 where he has become a regular in their Academy side. Developed at the famous Home Farm club in Whitehall, where he played alongside international colleagues Ian Daly and Eric Foley.
Now: Stayed in the North-East of England after being released by Sunderland in 2008. Played non-league football for Whitley Bay, before joining South Shields in the ninth tier. He currently captains the Northern League Division One side.

Adrian Moyles
Born: 04/03/90.
Previous clubs: Chelsea, QPR.
U17 caps: 4.
Then: Brentford Left-back or wide-left midfield. Adrian is London-born and both his parents were born in Mayo. Only started playing soccer regularly at 12 because prior to that he represented London in Gaelic football and hurling. Played previously for Chelsea and QPR before joining Brentford in the summer of 2006.
Now: Released by Brentford in 2009.

Dean Marshall
Born: 15/03/90.
Previous club: Shelbourne.
U17 caps: 5.
Then: Coventry City Wide-right midfielder. Dean is originally from Cabra in Dublin. He is a fast and tricky old-style winger, with an abundance of skills. Moved from Shelbourne to Coventry City at the start of the 2006/7 season.
Now: Returned to Ireland in 2008 to join Bohemians for two seasons, and then another two seasons at Sligo Rovers. Now plays for UCD, after a short spell at Athlone Town.

James O’Brien
Born: 08/06/90.
Previous club: Cherry Orchard.
U17 caps: 7.
Then: Birmingham City Central midfield. James was captain of the U16 side last season and arguably the team’s most consistent performer. An excellent holding midfielder from Ballyfermot in West Dublin, he has a big future ahead of him. Has played in all six International fixtures this season. James is a cousin of Clifford Byrne, a prominent past member of various Irish underage teams and currently with Scunthorpe United. Won the eircom U16 player of the season award announced on February 4th 2007.
Now: Played three games on loan at Solihull Motors before joining Bradford City in 2009. Scored twice in 23 appearances, but was released after injury curtailed his progress. Joined St. Patrick’s Athletic in 2010, and moved to Longford last summer.

Conor McCormack
Born: 18/05/90.
Previous club: Bellurgan.
U17 caps: 5.
Then: Manchester United Central midfield. Conor comes from the Dundalk area and is a reliable, valuable player. His career has taken off since he represented the Dundalk Schoolboys League in the SFAI Kennedy Cup in 2004 and Manchester United secured his signature soon after. Conor’s contribution to the team in the past two seasons has been enormous, despite missing some games with injuries. Started in the three qualifying games of the UEFA 1st phase series in Azerbaijan and scored against the group hosts.
Now: The former Manchester United trainee joined US Triestina Calcio in 2008, becoming the first Irishman since Robbie Keane to move to Italy, but had a frustrating three years at the Serie B side. Joined Shamrock Rovers last season where he has greatly impressed.

James McCarthy
Born: 12/11/90.
U17 caps: 1.
Then: Hamilton Academicals Midfielder. Born in Scotland and is eligible for Ireland through his late grandfather who was from Donegal. Received his first call-up to the squad for the games against Italy and looked sharp on his debut – playing the entire match in central-midfield. A creative player, James has stepped into Hamilton’s first-team with ease this season and is attracting attention from Liverpool, Chelsea, Reading and Celtic.
Now: A senior Republic of Ireland international after turning down advances from Scotland, McCarthy is a key player at Premier League side Wigan Athletic following a £1.2 million transfer in 2009. Has three senior caps to date.

Eric Foley
Born: 20/01/90.
Previous club: Home Farm.
U17 caps: 2.
Then: Glasgow Celtic Central midfield. Eric is from Donabate in North Dublin and gained his first U16 cap against Norway. Did not play at U15 level but steadily improved over 2006/’06 season and caught the eye of Glasgow Celtic scouts. Was unlucky not to be capped early in the season but featured against Italy.
Now: Returned to Ireland in 2009, joining Sporting Fingal. Spent a season at Shelbourne, where he scored 6 goals in 18 league games, before moving to current club Monaghan United.

James Cronesberry
Born: 02/11/90.
U17 caps: 2.
Then: Middlesboro Midfielder. James is English-born and qualifies for the Republic of Ireland by virtue of his Kerry-born grandparents. Is able to play across the midfield positions and learnt his trade at Middlesboro where ex-Irish International Curtis Fleming is on the coaching staff. Made his Irish debut in the double-friendly fixture against Italy in January 2007.
Now: Released by Middlesbrough in 2010, and now plays for Thornaby Dubliners in the twelfth tier – Teesside Football League Division One.

Joe Collins
Born: 29/10/90.
U17 caps: 3.
Then: Portsmouth Midfielder. Joe can operate on the wing or in attack. An extremely gifted youngster, he is the son of ex-Irish underage International and former Shelbourne assistant manager, Eamon Collins. Is the first cousin of International team-mate Michael Collins.
Now: Left Portsmouth for Scotland in 2009, joining Dundee United. Failed to make the grade at the SPL side, and returned to England to play for Eastleigh in the Blue Square Bet South. Joined ninth tier Wessex League Premier Division side Blackfield and Langley in December.

Shane O’Connor
Born: 14/4/90.
Previous club: Wilton
U17 caps: 8.
Then: Liverpool Winger/striker. Shane emerged on the International scene during the 2005/6 season, playing mostly on the left-flank. Impressed the on-looking Stephen Staunton during Ireland’s match against Northern Ireland, played in Dundalk in March 2006. Picked up an injury in that game but made his comeback and represented Ireland’s U17 team at the Hungarian International tournament in August 2006. Scored in the game against Poland and went on to help Ireland negotiate their way to the top of the table in the UEFA 1st phase qualifiers.
Now: Recently released by Ipswich Town after 17 league appearances in three years. Also spent time on Port Vale on loan this season, and now plays as a defender. Linked with Dundalk this week.

Ian Daly
Born: 20/03/90.
Previous clubs: Broadford Rovers, Home Farm.
U17 caps: 5.
Then: Manchester City Striker. Ian was the team’s main marksman over the past two seasons, at U15 and U16 levels. A tall and very skilful player – possessing quick feet – he holds the rare ability to combine his game in the air and on the ground. He left Home Farm to join Manchester City in July 2006 and comes from Ballinteer in South Dublin.
Produced a series of good showings in Azerbaijan, doing enough to win ‘player of the tournament’. A nominee for the eircom U16 ‘player of the year award’.
Now: Another player with a taste of overseas football, Daly joined Greek side Aris Thessaloniki in 2009, playing seven games, before moving to Spain to Spanish Segunda Division B’s Cadiz CF in 2010. Was frustrated in Spain, playing just one game in just three months, leaving to join St. Pat’s last January.

Kurtis Byrne
Born: 9/4/90.
Previous club: Cherry Orchard.
U17 caps: 5.
Then: Norwich City Striker. Kurtis is a natural goal-scorer, who can find goals from outside as well as inside of the penalty area. Played for Ireland intermittently at U15 and U16 level but challenged for a starting slot in the team during the 2006/7 competitive season. Started the three first phase qualifying matches. Moved cross-channel to Norwich City, where he has progressed into the reserve team. Kurtis is the son of former Glasgow Celtic player, Paul Byrne.
Now: An established player in Scotland, having followed his father Paul Byrne to the SPL. Spent three years at Hibernian, which included loan spells to Stirling Albion, East Fife, and Alloa Athletic. Joined Ross County on a permanent deal last summer.

Sean Scannell
Born: 17/9/90.
U17 caps: 7.
Then: Crystal Palace Striker. Qualifies for Ireland though his grandfather, who is from Castleblaney in County Monaghan. Sean first came to the notice of the Irish management team during the International trials at the start of the 2006/7 season and soon laid down his pedigree by scoring three goals in as many games for Ireland in the Hungarian International tournament in August 2006. Scored twice on his debut against Serbia and Montenegro.
Now: Crystal Palace Striker. The only player in the squad to still be at the same club. Scannell is a regular for the Championship side and has played over 100 league games for the club, despite being just 21.

Michael Collins
Born: 12/07/90.
Previous club: Cherry Orchard.
U17 caps: 6.
Then: Liverpool Striker. Michael comes from a well known football family with uncles Eamon and David having played professional football in England. A clever ball player, he can play wide on either flank but is best in a central attacking role. Michael was sought by a number of cross-channel clubs during his days at Cherry Orchard but opted for Liverpool, where he currently plays for the U18 Academy team. Scored Ireland’s crucial opening goal against Latvia to set them on their way to the victory that would win the UEFA first phase group. Had to miss the matches against Italy owing to Liverpool’s involvement in the FA Youth Cup during the same week.
Now: Playing in Cyprus for APE Pitsilia in the Cypriot Second Division after time at Triestina Calcio with Conor McCormack. Like McCormack, did not break through there, and left after just one year. Is a regular squad player in Cyprus.

Craig Duggan
Born: 05/04/90.
U17 caps: 5.
Then: Kilreen Celtic Striker. Leading scorer last season at U16 level having scored four goals in five games. Cork lad Craig is small in stature but is very fast and strong and very composed around goal. Played in Hungary during August and was back in the fold for the friendly double-header against Italy.
Now: Spent three seasons at Cork City, but was released in 2009 after playing just three games. Represented Ireland at European Futsal Championship in his final year at the club.

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