Amateurs gear up for UEFA Finals with Training Camp
Speaking ahead of the training camp in the Algarve, Irish boss, Smith (pictured right) said, "First of all, it is a magnificent achievement to have reached this year's finals, I have selected 23 players to attend the Portugal training camp and on our return from the camp, I will name the 20 players who will travel to the UEFA Regions Cup Finals in June.
"It will be hard to whittle the squad down to 20 as the players have given me total commitment over the season and having qualified last finals last November, I have got to be fair to the players that got us there and to make sure we are covered in every area. It is up to every player named to make my selection as difficult as possible."
"So far, the preparation for the finals has been fantastic, the squad have been in for a number of training camps while in April, we had two successful friendly games against Serie C opposition in Italy against Olmedo and Calinganis.
"The Portuguese training camp will involve two friendlies against local opposition and will also acclimatise our players who will be playing in incredibly humid conditions in Croatia. The Junior Council and the key committee, especially Dennis Cruise (Secretary, FAI Junior Council) and Michael Hanley (Chairman, FAI Junior Council) have been fully supportive and have made every effort to ensure that this is the best ever prepared Irish amateur team to go to a UEFA Regions Cup finals," said Smith.
On the prospect of facing Spain, Bosnia and Belgium, Smith was cautious but optimistic: "There will be eight good sides contesting the finals. No matter what way the draw panned out, we were always going to be up against decent opposition.
"We know that we are a very competitive side and we will be well prepared for what lies ahead. The players have acquitted themselves well to date and they are an excellent group who put in a huge effort and commitment in playing for their country.
"We have done a lot of research on the teams who we will face in this tournament; Spain emerged from a qualifying group containing France and Portugal with a maximum of nine points while Bosnia also scored the maximum points in their campaign to date.
"We're looking forward to Croatia and we believe that we will travel with a degree of confidence because we have a great spirit and we have people who want to do well for themselves and their country," he added.
The Irish team's preparations will conclude with a friendly match against the Irish University on Sunday, June 7th in the Athletic Union League (AUL), Dublin.
UEFA Regions Cup final fixtures
Monday, June 15th
Republic of Ireland v Spain
Wednesday, June 17th
Republic of Ireland v Bosnia
Friday June 19th
Republic of Ireland v Belgium
Monday, June 22nd
UEFA Regions Cup Final
Republic of Ireland Amateur Squad
Adrian Walsh (Carrick Utd)
Brendan O' Connell (Avondale FC)
Austin Hannon (Malahide Utd)
Ken Hoey (Rockmount FC)
Paul Breen (St. Michaels FC)
James Walsh (St. Michaels FC)
Paul Mc Cabe (Crumlin Utd)
John Carroll (St. Kevins Boys)
Daniel Loughran (Crumlin Utd)
Willie Molloy (Sheriff YC)
David Lacey (Killester Utd)
Ross Carrig (Killester Utd)
Dean Kelly (Tolka Rvs)
Peter Sherlock (Bluebell Utd)
Derek Varian (Kinsale FC)
Ray Wheelan (Wayside Celtic)
Wayne Callaghan (Wayside Celtic)
Laurence Dunne (Bangor Cel)
Keith Kirwan (Baldoyle Utd)
Conor Dillon (St. Kevins Bys)
Wayne Byrne (Dublin Bus FC)
Alan O' Duffy (Bluebell Utd)
Declan O' Connell (Douglas Hall)