The Republic of Ireland Under-17 side celebrating earlier this year as they qualified for the elite phase of the Under-17 European Championships

NUTGROVE native Luke Nolan played a key role for the Republic of Ireland Under-17 side that advanced further than any other Irish side have at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Zagreb, reaching the quarter-finals.
Nolan, who currently plays for the St Patrick’s Athletic Under-17 side, played the full 90 minutes in Ireland’s first group game against Serbia and returned to the line-up for the quarter-final as he continues his rise up the ranks.
Nolan attends De La Salle College in Churchtown and started playing football for Dundrum FC.
He eventually moved to Leicester Celtic FC before famed schoolboy academy Crumlin United came calling where Nolan won an All-Ireland medal. From there, he joined St Kevin’s Boys and won the DDSL Premier League.
The future looks bright for Nolan with the youngster having also won player of the tournament at the prestigious Northern Ireland Milk Cup, and had trials at West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace.
In the quarter-final itself, England came at Ireland from the start and eventually took a 1-0 lead just 13 minutes into the game through Manchester City youngster Jadon Sancho’s unstoppable 30-yard strike into the top corner.
Ireland tried desperately to find an equaliser in the searing Mediterranean heat but just couldn’t knick the goal they needed.
Head Coach Colin O’Brien heaped praise on Nolan and his teammates after the game: “I’m very proud of all the players and staff. Everybody played as a team.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game and we knew we’d have to concede possession for long periods. England are a high-quality team.
“Defensively we were far better [than in their loss to Germany in the group]. Our boys are after getting huge experience from these finals. It’s the furthest Ireland have reached in a long time.
“We had six players in that squad that are underage again next year that have got huge experience. The older guys go onto the Under-18 side now and I’ve no doubt some will push into the Under-19s – that can only be good for our players going forward for European competitions.”
O’Brien was also impressed with how his players responded to the 7-0 humbling by a very strong Germany side.
“There is great character in this squad, which has been there all season. Sometimes players just need a wakeup call and that was the game against Germany without a doubt.
“They showed that by working as a team, by understanding how you have to set up as a team defensively against high quality, what you have to sacrifice.
“They did that to a man against England and we stayed in the game right until the death.”


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