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Aaron Connolly Wants To Change Perception About Ireland Career

PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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Aaron Connolly hopes his involvement with the U21s for their crucial European Championship playoff against Israel will show people that he is motivated to play for Ireland.

Connolly, current on loan at Serie B club Venezia from Brighton, last played for the Ireland U21s three years ago. He was called up to the squad by manager Jim Crawford last week following a phone call from John Morling, the former Brighton academy manager who is now working for the FAI.

Ireland face Israel in the first leg of the playoff in Tallaght on Friday with the second leg being played in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. A place in what would be Ireland's first ever major championships at U21 level is on the line.

Aaron Connolly: 'I've made some so-called mistakes'

"I actually spoke to John Morling first, because I know John from my Brighton days, he was the one that brought me over when he was the academy manager," the 22-year-old explained to FAI TV.

"When he mentioned it, and how big the game was, I couldn't wait to get involved, just to show people that I'm not taking playing for Ireland for granted. Maybe some people might have that perception over the last few years. It's a chance to help the 21s qualify, and show people what I can do.

"I was a bit surprised that I was still eligible! A lot of people have certain things to say about my career so far. They forget that I am still eligible to play U21 football.


"I've made some so-called mistakes over the last certain amount of years. It's just a chance to go and show people that I'm ready to play, and ready to focus on football."


aaron connolly ireland u21s israel

19 September 2022; Aaron Connolly during a Republic of Ireland U21's training session at FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Connolly, who has eight Ireland senior caps, is now one of the senior players at U21 level. Though his focus is on the playoff with Israel, he also hopes it will put him back on Stephen Kennny's radar.


"Stephen was the manager the last time I played 21s," said Connolly.

"It would be nice to put myself back in the plans for Stephen, and show him that I'm ready to focus, and play for Ireland again.

"It's been a while now since I've played at any level for Ireland. I'm looking forward to just getting back in. I know most of the boys from growing up.


"I'm just looking forward to the game starting, and hopefully we can make a bit of history for the 21s."

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