Football

Promising Young Aston Villa Player From Belfast Explains Why He's Declared For The Republic

Promising Young Aston Villa Player From Belfast Explains Why He's Declared For The Republic

A little over a week ago, Michael O'Neill criticised the FAI's pursuit of underage Northern Ireland players.

In particular, the Northern Ireland manager was perturbed about Aaron McEneff. He called the FAI's approach to McEneff during a Northern Ireland U21 qualifying campaign 'morally poor'.

During that same interview, O'Neill also highlighted the situation of the Hale brothers, Rory and Ronan, both of whom have switched their international allegiance from Northern Ireland to the Republic.

I heard about the Hale brothers – Aston Villa's Rory and Birmingham City's Ronan – who made the switch. Well then, why did they play for Northern Ireland to begin with?

If you're going to follow your dream, follow it.

In an interview with the Irish News, Rory Hale explained why he decided to switch. 18 months ago, Hale decided he would reject any further call-ups to the North's U21 squad because of his desire to play for the Republic.

Last week, the midfielder received his first call-up to the Republic of Ireland U21 squad.

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Hale's parents had influenced his decision to play for Northern Ireland at underage level but 18 months ago, the young player felt he was old enough make up his own mind and contacted the FAI about making the switch.

His decision was also partially influenced by what he saw as a lack of game time with Northern Ireland.

I made this decision myself. I grew up in north Belfast, I’m Irish, my family is Irish and I want to play for Ireland.

I was old enough to make my own decision - and I made it.

Hale added that he always been a fan of the Republic.

I’ve always been a Republic fan. My father took me to all the games when I was a kid. Friendly matches as well, we went to watch all the games.

I still watch them now. I get my Ireland top on and watch them. I was on holiday during the Euros and I had my top on to watch their games.

See Also: Jon Walters Throws A Bit Of Shade At Wales Ahead Of Aviva Qualifier

PJ Browne
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