It's been an impressive campaign for Stephen Kenny's outfit despite their 2-0 loss to Brazil in the semi-finals of the Toulon Tournament in Aubagne, France.
A well-0rganised and determined outfit were undone by an exceptional one. For context, Matheus Cuhna, who scored the game's second goal, cost €15m and played 35 games for RB Leipzig, scored 9 goals. Next season he's set to surpass 100 club senior appearances.
Herein lies the problem. Bar Dara O'Shea, very few of this Irish crop are playing first-team football currently. Lee O'Connor, Conor Masterson, Adam Idah and Conor Coventry have all impressed in academy squads but their exposure lags behind in comparison to their counterparts.
Lee O'Connor (0) = Lyanco (40)
Jayson Molumby (0) = Matheus Henrique (18)
Conor Coventry (0) = Paulinho (30)
All players listed here have potential; the issue lies in developing it.
The Manchester United prospect was one of Ireland's best players against Brazil. Has all the makings of a ball-playing defender. His second half diving block was the highlight, but he followed it up shortly after with a brilliant field-length press to force a corner. Sensational for someone just 18 years old.
John O'Shea recently predicted he'd a "fantastic future ahead of him."
O'Connor looks set to accompany Manchester United on their pre-season tour but he needs more senior game time than the Premier League club can afford to offer. A loan deal this summer could prove beneficial.
One of the few playing regular, first-team football and it shows. Ozzes composure, accurate delivery and a great engine. Returning to Ireland from Coventry seems to have done wonders for his confidence. It is telling that performers like Dara O'Shea and Leahy's experience of senior football is standing to them.
The Irish captain missed a penalty against Bahrain but did little else wrong that day in a masterclass performance. Looks well able for the physical side of the game but crucially, has a high ceiling in terms of his technical aspects. He has already made his senior debut for Brighton.
The best performer in green during their semi-final showdown with Brazil. By half-time, he had full-back Emerson in a world of trouble. This battle was a definitive case study.
Emerson recently signed for Barcelona for €12.7 million. He played several games on loan for mid-table La Liga side Real Betis last season. If ever there was proof Connolly is ready for senior exposure, this was it.
His attacking exploits are well-publicised at this stage but his ability on the other side of the ball, with relentless work-rate and pressing, is also promising.
Deservedly named Premier League 2 Player of the Year last season.
Another impressive 18-year-old. He scored his first goal for the U21s last March and was back amongst the goals during this tournament.
— FreeSports 📺 (@FreeSports_TV) June 3, 2019
More importantly, his hold-up play and in-game intelligence are wonderful attributes in a striker.
A third-place play-off awaits, but beyond that, a bigger fix is necessary to maximise a talented team.