Irish U19s set for UEFA Championship

Irish U19s set for UEFA Championship

McCaffrey declares Under-19 squad training camp a success
22nd May 2009
Republic of Ireland Under-19 manager Sean McCaffrey took the opportunity this week to focus his players' minds on the UEFA Elite stages qualifiers when he assembled a group of 25 players for a three-day training camp in Enfield, County Meath.

The manager will shortly unveil his final squad of 18 players and confirmed that several fringe players boosted their chances of inclusion by impressing during the camp.

"It was an excellent opportunity to assemble the players and get some really important work done," he said.

"The timing meant that we couldn't have all the players here, due to club commitments, but the majority we wanted made it their business to come over for the workout.

"As well as the core group of players we have used throughout the campaign, we also brought in some new players and reintroduced some who had been with us at the start of the season for the Midlands tournament.

"We decided to bring them away into a quiet environment for a few days' training and they responded well with their attitude and application."

He added: "We have a combination of Under-19s and Under-18s vying for places in the squad and the quality is there for us to compete in this group on June 5.

"A lot will depend on whether we have our best players available. Aaron Doran has broken into the first-team at Blackburn Rovers, West Ham United's Terry Dixon is coming back from injury as is Conor Henderson of Arsenal and all three will be in contention for places in the squad.

"Belgium are confident of qualifying. They have a few players already in first-team squads with clubs around Europe and will be strong. At this stage of the qualifying process, the standard is particularly high and we'll need to be at our best going over there in the next fortnight."

Ireland safely negotiated their path through the first phase qualifiers in Malta last November when they captured one of top two positions in the four-nation group to confirm their place in the Elite phase.

Only one place in the finals, to be staged in Belarus in July, is on offer from the Elite group, which also features Sweden, Switzerland and mini-group hosts, Belgium. The games are scheduled from June 5-10.

Ireland get their quest underway on the June 5 against Belgium at the Complex Op de Keiberg in Tongeren before playing Switzerland at the same venue two days later. They wrap up the series against Sweden on June 10 at the Sport Centrum in Tessenderio.

UEFA U19 Championship - Elite Qualifying Phase Fixtures
Belgium v Republic of Ireland
5 June 2009
Complex Op de Keiberg - Tongeren
Kick-off - 19.00 hrs (local time)

Republic of Ireland v Switzerland
7 June 2009
Complex Op de Keiberg - Tongeren
Kick-off: 16.00 hrs (local time)

Sweden v Republic of Ireland
10 June 2009
Sport Centrum - Tessenderio
Kick-off: 19.00 hrs (local time)