Airtricity, a supporter of the FAI senior side has added their name to the elite U19 League to provide development opportunities for the best young players in Ireland.
“There is a lot of talent in this country, as there is in every country,” said Wim Koevermans, the FAI high performance director.
“But the question is: ‘What do you do with it? How do you nurture it?’ That is why this league is so important. Because it gives the best young players in the country the chance to play against each other, to challenge each other and to improve together.”
Paul Doolin, U19 team manager, acknowledges the majority of his players will continue to be drawn from the ranks of the Irish in Britain but he too sees the development of this league as a major step forward.
“When it was being launched, I think a lot of people had a little bit of apprehension about it because it was a change from the normal underage system. But I think, from the players’ point of view, it gives them an insight into professional football.
“It gives them an idea of going to the stadiums, because that is where a lot of the games are played. If they do go on to professional football, they are used to travelling and midweek games under lights. I think it will be a benefit to everybody – not just the international managers – but the clubs and the players.”