This week, Jason Donohoe's Ireland U15s beat Latvia in two separate friendlies in Dublin by an aggregate score of 12-0. What should have been a joyous event for these players - many of whom represented their country for the first time - has been marred by vile racist abuse aimed at these teenagers on social media.
On Friday, the FAI released a strongly-worded and necessary statement condemning the abuse aimed at these young men. The FAI demanded social media companies to take action in the policing of hate speech and said Saturday they would meet with the Gardaí about the matter.
Ireland U21 coach Jim Crawford spoke of his disgust with the abuse at a media briefing ahead of today's U21s game against Iceland in Cork.
These same people will be cheering goals if Chieo (Ogbene) scores, Adam Idah scores, do you know what I mean?
“They're ignorant, they're uneducated, but they have to hide behind these fake accounts.
“It goes for racism, bullying and I do think social media companies have got to do something about this.
Crawford also spoke of the importance of multiculturalism within his squad, and the collective pride his team has to wear the green jersey.
Social media companies have turned a blind-eye to hate speech from anonymous commenters for years now, and because of that dereliction of responsibility, it's important to push back against lies and disinformation and champion the good these young Irishmen are doing. 19 of the 23 players in this week's squad are based in Ireland and they have all done a gallant job representing their country.
We thought it would be a good idea to tell the stories of the players involved against Latvia this week.
(Team photo credit: FAI)
Tuesday - 6-0 over Latvia
GK - Alex Noonan (Shamrock Rovers)
The Shamrock Rovers academy 'keeper has been a regular throughout the year for the Ireland U15s. Noonan also featured for the Ireland against the Australia 16s in January.
RB- Christian Coyle (Bohemians)
The Bohs academy player won his first Ireland cap this week. The former St Kevin’s Boys player also was in an U15 squad for Northern Ireland last year. Coyle started at right back for Ireland this week.
CB - Oisin McDonagh (Shamrock Rovers)
The Shamrock Rovers defender got his start with the Glynn Barntown club in Wexford. The centreback also captained Wexford in the Kennedy Cup. He travels up from Wexford three times a week because of his love of the game, according to Graham Gartland.
CB - Sam Steward (St Patrick's Athletic)
Steward got his start with Corduff FC in Blanchardstown before joining St Pat’s. Partnered with McDonagh as Ireland’s two centrebacks.
LB - Ade Solanke (Shamrock Rovers)
Ade Solanke captained the Ireland U15s on Wednesday at left back. The Shamrock Rovers academy player has also been called into Paul Osam’s Ireland U16s.
@ades0lanke International duty 🇮🇪 #fyp #foryou #trending ♬ My place - RTR Jae
Solanke happens to be the Ireland U15s most prolific tik-tok'er. Here he is with teammate Grady McDonnell of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
MF - Goodness Ogbanna (Shamrock Rovers)
Goodness Ogbanna plays for Shamrock Rovers but had a glittering underage career with Longford club Melview FC. According to the Melview website, Goodness “won the league and cup double twice with Melview Fc. He also won the players player, Top Goal Scorer and Managers player awards before going on to win the overall club player of the year in his final season with the club.”
The fifth goal from Goodness Ogbanna! 🟢⚪️🥰 https://t.co/ap8vQzmcBt pic.twitter.com/xORo7pLEo2
— Graham Merrigan (@Merriganmania) October 16, 2022
MF - Muhammad Oladiti (Shamrock Rovers)
Muhammad Oladiti was a huge star at Southend United in Ballybeg in Waterford - a club he joined as a five-year-old - before joining the Shamrock Rovers academy. He also starred in the Waterford team that reached the 2022 Kennedy Cup final. Muhammad won his first Ireland cap back in October against Croatia.
Here’s what Southend United said about Muhammad ahead of those games in the autumn:
Everyone in Southend would like to wish our former player Muhammad Oladiti the very best of luck as Muhammad has been selected for a three day Irish under 15 International training camp being held this week,Muhammad has been in excellent form for his current club Shamrock Rovers since his move a few months ago and this selection is very well deserved, Muhammad is a brilliant kid and a fantastic role model for all the younger kids coming through our academy with his fantastic work ethic towards training and preparation for matches and the respect he has always shown his coaches since he joined Southend at the age of five,Muhammad also still finds time to attend some training sessions with our schoolboy sides,hopefully we will see Muhammad make the step up to a full international cap in the coming months,keep up the great work Muhammad everyone in Southend is extremely proud of you
MF - Ramon Martos (Almería)
Martos is the sole representative of La Liga in the Ireland U15 squad. He plays with Spanish side Almería and we’re presuming he has Irish links on his mother's side of the family. Martos captained the Ireland u15s v Wales at the beginning of the month and appears to be an immense talent.
🎙️| Ramón Martos, jugador de la U.D.Almería, ha sido convocado por la selección de la República de Irlanda, para la disputa del Torneo Desarrollo UEFA sub-15.
¡Enhorabuena Ramón! 🤩🔜#GlobalSportsManager#GSMPlayers pic.twitter.com/dnSNPUFNHN
— Global Sports Manager (@globalsportsma) October 11, 2022
F - Jaden Umeh (Cork City)
Jaden Umeh is from a fine footballing family in Cork - his brother Franco just signed with Crystal Palace last month. He joined Ringmahon Rangers - the same club that gave the world Caoimhín Kelleher - when he was 5 and he has since joined the Cork City academy, where he was U14 player of the year last season.
F - Charles Akinrintayo - (Shamrock Rovers)
Charles Akinrintayo attends Lucan Community College, made his Ireland U15 debut vs Latvia. He scored as Rovers won the U14 EA Sports National League last November. Against Latvia on Tuesday, Charles scored a penalty he won himself and as well as a tap in.
F - Luke Chukwu - (Bohemians)
Luke Chukwu won his first Ireland cap this week, played for St Kevin’s Boys and is now in the Bohs academy. He's a product of Verona FC in Blanchardstown, who saw the potential in him from an early stage.
Congratulations and best of luck to former Verona starlet Luke Chukwu who has been selected for the upcoming Ireland U15 Squad. Luke played under Tracy Gleeson's talented side and was always earmarked to push onto higher things. Keep up the good work Luke 👏🏼 💙⚽️ 🇮🇪 pic.twitter.com/FebQZHSDId
— Verona FC (@VeronaFCDublin) March 19, 2023
Bray's Billy O'Neill scored three goals for the Ireland U15s back at the start of the month and he came off the bench to add another goal to his tally on Tuesday.
One player who really impressed off the bench on Tuesday was Aaron Heaney of Sligo Rovers. Heaney is full of pace and running. Heaney started his career with Westport United before joining Sligo Rovers.
Thursday - More of the same from the Ireland U15s
Ireland would go on to beat Latvia 6-0 again on Thursday. Many of the same players featured in both games.
Other players to earn some playing time were Ali Topcu, who started in goals.
Ali grew up in Duleek and starred in the Duleek NS side that won the SPAR FAI Primary 5s in 2019. His played for St Kevin’s Boys before joining the Shelbourne Academy. His brother Emre plays for Drogheda and was called up to the Turkey U18s. He was replaced in the 56th minute of that game by Luke Cullen of St Patrick's Athletic, who was making his second appearance of the week off the bench. Cullen starred with Peamount United before entering the Pats academy and has been a regular in Jason Donohue’s Ireland U15 sides.
Grady McDonnell, the sole North American-based player in the squad, also started on Thursday. He's in the Vancouver Whitecaps academy. He came off the bench in Tuesday's friendly and played the first half on Thursday.
Killian Ryan of Shelbourne made a huge impact in his substitute appearance on Thursday. He assisted one goal and scored another.
Rory Finneran and Kian McMahon Brown were the only UK-based players in Jason Donohue's squad, and both started Thursday. Finneran plays for Blackburn, Brown is in the Burnley academy.
Brody Lee of Shamrock Rovers was one of the six Irish players to hit the net on Thursday. Lee got his start with Killavalla United in Roscrea before joining Belvedere. He’s the son of Roscrea/Templemore county councillor Shane Lee.
Michael Noonan of St Patrick's Athletic was one of four St Patrick's Athletic players in the Ireland U15s for these friendlies. He's been a regular in Donohue's squads this season and he paid back his manager's faith with a goal on Thursday. Noonan was not the only St Pats player to score on Thursday. Sam Rooney also scored after being introduced at halftime.
We believe Finn Sherlock is the only Cavan player in the Ireland U15s squad. He joined the Shelbourne Academy from Cootehill Harps. The striker played the full 90 minutes against Latvia on Thursday.
That's just a small introduction. We're keen to hear more from these players over the coming years.