Irish football has been on an upward trajectory in the last few years. Players such as Evan Ferguson at Brighton and Gavin Bazunu at Southampton are both examples of the next Irish golden generation making their impact on the Premier League.
However, both these young Irish stars exemplify the last Irish players able to move to the UK before their 18th birthday. Post Brexit, Irish players are now unable to move to the UK before they turn 18, something that aspiring Irish footballers would have always done.
This has been a blessing in disguise for Irish football, epitomised by the recent Ireland U17 team who reached the quarter finals of the u17 European Championships in Hungary. Of the 20 players that were in the young Irish squad, 18 play in Ireland and have come through the Irish system.
Here are the three that I think Celtic should have their eye on:
Club: Waterford FC
Romeo Akachukwu was one of the shining stars in Irelands run to the quarter final of the tournament. Starting every game after the opening 5-1 defeat to Poland, the athletic box-box midfielder showcased his long-range shooting ability with a worldie of a goal in the 3-0 victory over Wales. Link to goal-Romeo Akachukwu talks us through THAT goal against Wales 🤩☄️ – YouTube. The 16-year-old has already featured twice for Waterford in the Irish First Division and is certainly a player the Hoops have their eye on.
Club: Shamrock Rovers
The captain of this side Freddie Turley is another who shone throughout his side’s run to the last eight. Turley started the opening day defeat to Poland in midfield but was utilised at centre half for the rest of the tournament. The Dublin-native can operate adequately in either position and is a true modern day ball playing centre half. The 16-year-old is yet to make his debut for the reigning League of Ireland champions but featured twice in the UEFA Youth League.
Club: Shamrock Rovers
Arguably the star of the tournament for Ireland, Ike Orazi is a player who will be in serious demand after his impressive performances in Hungary. The tricky left winger started every game, registering two goals and two assists across the tournament, including a beautifully curled shot to the top corner against Wales. Link to goal- Video | Ike Orazi doubles Ireland’s lead against Wales | RTÉ (rte.ie). The Dublin-native like Freddie Turley play for the prestigious League of Ireland reigning champions Shamrock Rovers, who of course hold ties with Celtic through Dermot Desmond, with the Irishman holding shares in both clubs. Landing the 15-year-old would be a huge coup for Celtic but one that will be met with competition from suitors across Europe.