The outlook for the Irish senior team has been so bleak for much of 2018 that the search for optimism became a kind of epic truffle dig, but we found it at under-17 level, as Ireland were knocked out of the quarter-final stage of the European Championships in a hugely controversial penalty shootout.
Troy Parrott starred in the tournament for Ireland, scoring thrice in four games before the shoot-out went so terribly awry. The Dubliner progress has continued, however, and weeks after the tournament, he signed a contract at Spurs. Although still only 16, Parrott has made the step up to under-23 level at Spurs, and has also made an impact in the UEFA Youth League, recently scoring against Inter Milan.
He is highly thought-of at Tottenham, and today he has been given a significant promotion. As Daniel McDonnell of the Irish Independent reports, Parrott is travelling with the senior squad to their Premier League clash with Leicester City tonight. He is unlikely to make the bench, but it is an encouraging sign of his progress nonetheless.
Speaking to Balls recently, Brian Kerr warned of how difficult it will be for Parrott to make the senior breakthrough at Spurs, in spite of his talent.
I don't know him that well. I saw the games in the under-17s finals and he looked impressive. I know he is doing quite well at Spurs, but is a huge step now to go from under-23 level to being a first-team squad member.
Harry Winks is 21 and he has probably made it, but he is probably the only one at Tottenham to do it since Harry Kane, and that's at a club where the manager likes to give young players a chance.
It's very difficult for a young Irish player to make the break in the Premier League now, but he looks a talented player. He should progress through the 19s and the 21s, and sometimes if they are very talented they can skip the 21s. Mick [McCarthy] did that when he was last in charge with Robbie and Damien.
So let's see how it goes with young Parrott.