MANAGER'S NOTES | Ireland U21 V Luxembourg U21
We welcome our opponents Luxembourg who only a few weeks ago we competed against and I expect nothing less than a tough encounter again tonight.
I can’t tell you how much myself, the players and the staff have missed the fans, and it means so much to have you with us on this journey as we look to qualify for the EUROS.
The Irish support has been a massive motivator for what we do. Not many people know this, but when the draw was made for the qualifiers in January, the Under 21s staff and FAI personnel worked hard behind-the scenes to have our home games scheduled later in the year. This was done to give every possible chance of COVID-19 restrictions being eased so fans could return to Tallaght Stadium by the time we played at home.
This meant starting our qualifiers with two tough away games in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Luxembourg and playing four friendly games prior to that away from home. But when I see our fans joining us for Amhrán na bhFiann this evening and waving the tri-colour it will make the wait to have Irish supporters with us worthwhile.
Tonight will be an emotional one for so many reasons.
For a lot of people this may be your first time at a football game since the COVID-19 pandemic and sadly there will be fans who had joined us for matches in the past who can’t join us this evening and I ask you to keep them in your thoughts.
For the players, it has been a long wait for them to play in front of their friends and family with many making debuts for their country in behind-closed-doors games. Tonight we are together again and that excitement has been evident in training this week.
I’m honoured to have the Irish support side-by-side with us and to witness an exciting and diverse Irish team that takes great pride representing our country.
I hope you enjoy tonight’s game and I’ve no doubt you’ll give every ounce of support to get behind the boys.