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U17 Euros: Everything You Need To Know As Ireland Chase World Cup Spot

U17 Euros: Everything You Need To Know As Ireland Chase World Cup Spot
Rudi Kinsella
By Rudi Kinsella
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Today sees the Under-17 European Championships kick-off in Hungary, and there will be an extremely talented bunch of Irish youngsters taking part.

The teens born in the year 2006 will be hoping to impress in a competition that has played host to players who have gone on to incredible things in the world of football in the past.

Ireland have been drawn in Group A with Poland, Wales and hosts Hungary, with our first game being against Poland on Wednesday.

While it's understandable that Irish football fans out there won't have kept up to date with the entire qualifying campaign, many will likely remember the extraordinary moment Colin O'Brien's squad ensured they would be playing in the tournament.

Back in March of this year, Bohs' man Nickson Okosun finished brilliantly with what was essentially the last kick of the game against Cyprus to qualify O'Brien's side.

It was a special moment for that group of youngsters, and they will be hoping to build on it with a strong campaign in Hungary.

It's a 32 team competition. Five places in this year's U17 World Cup are on the line - with the four semifinalists automatically advancing. The defeated quarterfinalists with the best group stage record will play off for the final place.


Ireland Under 17 Euros preview


While there are plenty of exciting names in O'Brien's squad, one player in particular seems like the one to watch for this tournament, and that is Mason Melia.

Melia scored a hat-trick against Ukraine in the qualifying campaign for this tournament, and more recently, has been pulling up trees at club level.

Still just 15 years of age, the St. Patrick's Athletic forward looks mature beyond his years, and has already featured for the League of Ireland club on a number of occasions.



Mason Melia and Irish youngsters at Under 17s Euros

This is a tournament that has seen the likes of Paul Pogba, Andreas Iniesta, Eden Hazard and David Silva make their mark, and Melia will be hoping that he can do the same.

This is far from a one-man team though. Okosun who scored that crucial goal in qualifying is a real talent, Naj Razi (Shamrock Rovers) looks like he has that little spark, and Jake Grante has impressed underage coaches at Crystal Palace.

Unfortunately, two of the more exciting names from this age group - Derby County’s Niall McAndrew and Liverpool Trent Kone-Doherty - miss out through injury.

Under 17 Euros

But that gives others a chance to step up, and follow in the footsteps of some of the footballing greats who have gone before them in this tournament.

Ireland vs Poland kicks-off at 3.30 on Wednesday, and can be seen on the RTÉ News Channel or the RTÉ Player.


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