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Son Of Irish Olympians To Train With Serie A Teams

Son Of Irish Olympians To Train With Serie A Teams
By PJ Browne Updated

Ireland underage international Cathal Heffernan is set to train with a number of Serie A teams.

Heffernan travelled to Italy on Monday and began his trial with Atalanta on Tuesday. His time with Roma begins on Saturday, while his third week will be with either Juventus or AC Milan.

Heffernan, a student of Douglas Community School in Cork, is currently a member of the Cork City underage academy.

Last year, he captained the Ireland U15 side in a friendly win against the Australian U17s.

Previously, he had been linked with teams in England and Scotland. However, Brexit has changed much for young Irish players. They are no longer allowed to join UK teams before turning 18 but they can move to European sides once they are older than 16.

The teenage defender's parents are Irish Olympians Rob and Marian Heffernan.

"[Brexit] has changed the whole landscape," Rob Heffernan told RTÉ's Claire Byrne Live.

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"He is looking at other options and when the Italy option came up last week, it's such a massive opportunity. It's just really exciting to be able to do something so positive in such negative times.

"Cathal had his heart set on going away. We've done a lot of work over the last year-and-a-half. I've got very close to Stephen Ireland. Cathal has spent a couple of months over with him. He's been on trial at Man Utd, Burnley, and has been up at Celtic.

"When the rules changed he was gutted but he's really excited now. Italy is going to be a massive challenge for him. It's also a huge opportunity. It’s a different culture, there’s the language barrier and a different style of play. If nothing comes of it, it's going to be a brilliant opportunity for a fella of 15."

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Rob Heffernan won gold for Ireland in the 50K walk at the 2013 World Athletics Championships. Four years after finishing fourth in the same event at the 2012 Olympics, he was upgraded to the bronze medal position after Russian gold medallist Sergey Kirdyapkin was disqualified for doping. Marian Heffernan represented Ireland as part of the Irish 4x400m relay team at the 2012 Olympics.

Rob Heffernan said that his son was a "bit annoyed" when news of his trials emerged on Monday.

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"I said, 'If you're going to be in that world, you just need to deal with the social media and put it to the side, and concentrate on what you have to do'.

"His athletic background, going into a football environment, they just think he’s super dedicated but I just think it's normal. His environment growing up, with me and Mar, it's definitely standing with him now going into a team sport.

"Marian's family are big football people. Her brother and dad played with Ireland underage."

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