Football

Former Rovers Striker Michael O'Connor Declares For Northern Ireland

Former Rovers Striker Michael O'Connor Declares For Northern Ireland

Former Shamrock Rovers striker Michael O'Connor has confirmed his switch of international allegiances to Northern Ireland.

The Dundalk native had represented the Republic of Ireland at under-18 and under-19 level, but qualifies for the North via his Belfast-born grandmother.

O'Connor moved to Linfield in July of this year, having found himself as a peripheral figure in the Rovers squad prior to his departure. With the international switch heavily rumoured over the past few weeks, O'Connor confirmed the move to the Belfast Telegraph:

It is true that I've declared for Northern Ireland. My nanny Patricia is from Dundalk like me but she was born in Belfast, and I think it is the right decision for me, so going forward hopefully I will be playing for Northern Ireland.

I just turned 20 in July so I can play in the next campaign for the Under-21s, and hopefully if I'm doing things right and scoring goals for Linfield I'll get the nod.

This move bucks the trend that has developed in recent times, where a number of Northern Ireland born players have declared for the Republic of Ireland. The likes of James McClean, Shane Duffy and, most recently, Dundalk's Michael Duffy have pledged their international allegiances to the Republic.

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It is something that has been of great concern to those at the IFA, who have increasingly seen their most promising young players poached by their neighbours to the south.

They have been attempting to reverse this trend in recent times however, with O'Connor a notable example. Michael O'Neill also recently spoke to Burnley's Jimmy Dunne about the possibility of declaring for the North. Once the news of this meeting had leaked, Dunne was quickly called up to the Republic of Ireland for the most recent international break.

SEE ALSO: Kieran Sadlier Reportedly Set For Move To English League One

Gary Connaughton

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