A clutch of Ireland’s U21 players were promoted to the senior international squad while Stephen Staunton was in charge of Ireland's UEFA Championship challenge.
Paul McShane, Darron Gibson, Shane Long and Darren Potter were all capped for the senior team in 2006/'07 while Stephen Gleeson and Stephen O’Halloran won their first senior caps when Ireland played in America in the Summer of 2007.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND U21 SQUAD, SEASON 2007-2008
Darren Randolph (Charlton Athletic) Born: 12/5/87. U21 caps: 5.
This powerful Goalkeeper has moved up the ladder at Charlton Athletic to become a feature of manager Alan Pardew’s first-team set-up.
Spent loan spells at Accrington Stanley and Gillingham before being promoted to sub ‘keeper for Charlton’s first-team during the 2006/7 season. Made his Premiership debut against Liverpool at Anfield on the final day of the season.
Had the distinction of being capped three seasons in a row at Under-19 level for the Republic and gained promotion to Ireland‘s senior squad for the EURO 2008 qualfier against San Marino in February 2007.
Darren is the Irish-born son of Ed, who was one of the first American basketball players to come to Ireland to play in the ‘Super-league‘.
Darren Quigley (UCD) Born: 10/6/85. U21 caps: 6.
Goalkeeper Darren has been part of Ireland’s underage teams for many years.
Commenced his young career at Sallynoggin club, St. Joseph’s Boys, in the same club team as Paul McShane and Andrew Keogh. Chose to join Manchester City as an apprentice but a broken arm curtailed his progress and he joined UCD when he returned to Ireland.
Made his Ireland U21 bow during the successful Madeira Cup campaign of February 2006 and has been a squad regular since. Was called into the ‘B’ squad as a replacement for the injured Shane Supple ahead of the match against Scotland in November 2006.
Eddie Nolan (Blackburn Rovers) Born: 5/8/88. U21 caps: 2.
A cultured defender, Eddie has captained Ireland at U15, U16, U17 and U19 levels. The former Waterford Bohemians cadet was part of the U19’s successful La Manga Cup winning squad in Spain.
Eddie is a first team squad member at Ewood Park, where he made his debut in the UEFA Cup against Nantes in late 2006. He also impressed during a loan spell at Stockport County where he gained experience in the English League Two.
A tall and commanding centre-half, Eddie is of similar mould to his friend and fellow Waterford native John O'Shea.
Stephen O’Halloran (Aston Villa) Born: 16/5/86. U21 caps: 7.
Cork-born Stephen was called into the Under-21 squad for the first time against Luxembourg in October 2006.
Was one of Ireland’s star performers at the Madeira Cup in February 2007 and a month later in Venlo, gave a steady display against Netherlands but was shown a red card in error for a foul he never made. Progressed to the senior squad for the trip to America and won his first two full caps against Ecuador and Bolivia.
On the club front, Stephen joined Aston Villa from Springfield and went on loan to Wycombe Wanderers in the 2006/7 season where he came up against Chelsea in the Carling Cup semi-final. Figured in Villa’s pre-season matches and moved on loan to Southampton on loan in the middle of the 2007/'08 season.
Darren Dennehy (Everton) – Born: 21/9/88. U21 caps: 0.
At 6ft 5ins Darren is a classy left-footed defender. The soft spoken Kerry lad is the Everton Youth team skipper and features in most of the club's reserves matches.
Was fast-tracked through the ranks at Goodison Park and has played for the first -team against Bohemians in a friendly at Dalymount Park in June 2006.
Made his U19 bow in Galway at the beginning of the 2006/7 season against Ukraine.
Dangerous at set pieces as shown when he scored last season for the U19’s against Holland and the Czech Republic. A leg injury ruled him out of the action on the eve of the Elite stage qualifiers.
Richard Keogh (Bristol City) Born: 11/8/86. U21 caps: 4.
Immensely talented defender Keogh has slotted into the Irish defence at U19 and U21 level seamlessly when required.
English-born Keogh qualifies for the Republic from his father's County Carlow background and was thrilled to make his first appearance in an Irish shirt against Italy in January of 2005 away to Italy.
Another highlight of Ireland's successful Madeira Cup campaign in February 2006, he went on to make his first competitive outings against Azerbaijan in May 2006. Moved to Huddersfield Town on loan in September 2007.
Darren O’Dea (Glasgow Celtic) Born: 4/2/87. U21 caps: 2.
Was promoted from the Under-19 squad to the Under-21’s for the UEFA qualifying group game against Greece in August 2006. Darren is a stylish defender who can play at left-back or central defence and has been appointed captain by manager Don Givens.
Was first introduced to first-team football at Celtic by Martin O’Neill on their pre-season tour in America in the Summer of 2004 and was handed his debut by current ‘Bhoys’ boss Gordon Strachan in the 2006/7 season.
One of Darren’s high points of that season was his solid defensive display against AC Milan at the San Siro during the UEFA Champions League Last-16 tie, when it took an extra-time goal by Kaka to ruin an otherwise impeccable night for the Dubliner.
O’Dea received his first call-up to the Irish senior squad for the double-header EURO matches against Wales and Slovakia in March 2007.
Conor’s stock has risen considerably since he joined Bohemians to play in the eircom league of Ireland season.
The Portmarnock man is most adept in the left-back position where he is known for his tendency to support the attack when his team needs the assistance.
Conor won the FAI/eircom Schools player of the year for 2006 after impressing for the representative team and earned his debut U21 cap against Luxembourg in 2006.
Aroused attention from many cross-channel clubs and was invited by Championship club Wolves for a trial in the summer of 2007.
James O’Brien (Celtic). Born: 28/9/87. U21 caps: 6.
Scottish-born James was first capped at U19 level in 2005 after declaring for the Republic through his grandfather who was from Wicklow.
Jim’s pace and skill can be a real asset and he won praise for the level of consistency he showed during a loan spell away from Parkhead last season to Dunfermline under the management of Irishman Stephen Kenny.
Returned to Celtic in pre-season of 2007 and joined Dundee United on loan until the end of the season on 31/01/'08.
Stephen Gleeson (Wolves) Born: 3/8/88. U21 caps: 2.
A quality playmaker, the former Cherry Orchard midfielder has the incisiveness and awareness to make quick decisions and deliver inch-perfect passes.
Superbly gifted, Stephen played a couple of first-team outings under boss Mick McCarthy at Wolves, where he is highly-rated.
Stephen was vice-captain of the Ireland U19 team in the 2006/’07 campaign but was forced to miss the Elite qualifiers due to Wolves' involvement in the Championship play-offs.
Won promotion to the Irish senior squad for the games in America in May 2007 where he made two substitute outings.
Scored both goals for Ireland’s U21 team against Germany in the 2-2 draw in Furth in August 2007. His brace was all the more memorable because it was his first cap at that age-level.
Patrick Cregg (Falkirk). Born: 21/2/86. U21 caps: 5.
Hails from Blanchardstown in Dublin, Patrick moved to Arsenal from Stella Maris and played for the Gunners in the Carling Cup match against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Transferred to Scottish Premier Division team Falkirk in January 2006 where he has developed a tag as a reliable and energetic midfielder.
Patrick is usually deployed in a holding role in midfield but has the versatility to get forward and strike from distance.
Stephen Quinn (Sheffield United). Born: 4/4/86. U21 caps: 3.
Former Cherry Orchard and St. Patrick’s Athletic player Stephen is the younger brother of senior International Alan Quinn and the older brother of Keith Quinn. All three play for Sheffield United.
Stephen is an elegant midfielder blessed with vision and creativity. After learning his trade in the English lower leagues on loan at Rotterham and Milton Keynes Dons, he was granted his Premiership debut for the Blades against Charlton in early 2007.
He was rewarded for his club form with a call-up to the Irish senior squad, making the bench for the 2-1 win over San Marino in February 2007. Made his U21 debut against Holland in Venlo a month later.
Appeared 13 times for his club in that season but couldn’t prevent their relegation to the Championship on the last day of fixtures.
Shane McFaul (University College Dublin). Born: 23/5/86. U21 caps: 1.
Began his career as a defender but has matured into a midfielder of premium quality for UCD in the eircom league of Ireland.
Was signed by Notts County from Cherry Orchard as a trainee and was settled into their first-team shortly afterwards.
Moved to America for a stint but came back to Ireland where he joined the Belfield club.
A series of commanding performances for the Students brought him onto the radar of Ireland Under-21 manager Don Givens and he was handed his chance in the friendly in Germany as a replacement for the injured Keith Treacy. Came on as a substitute in Furth to collect his first cap.
Michael Collins (Huddersfield Town). Born: 30/4/86. U21 caps: 2.
Halifax-born Michael has been involved with the Irish International fold since his teenage years after declaring through parentage.
Midfielder Collins emerged through the famous Youth set-up at League One team Huddersfield Town and has clocked up over 70 games since making his debut in 2004.
One of his most notable contributions came in January 2006 when he set up Town’s goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup third round game.
Captained the Irish U19’s and was eventually capped at U21 level against Holland after missing out on a few occasions prior due to injury.
Owen played for Home Farm Football Club in Dublin before transferring to Ipswich Town. He made a big impact at Portman Road, helping them win the FA Youth Cup title in 2005 and graduated to the first-team squad from the time he was 16 years old.
He has played in all the Tractor Boys matches to date this season and they are currently challenging for the promotion places in the English Championship table.
A succession of injuries and club commitments forced him to miss out on International football since the start of the 2004/5 season when he travelled to Russia with the Under-17 squad.
Owen is excited about his return to the Irish panel after being drafted into the game against Portugal as a replacement for the injured Keith Treacy.
Comes from a famous football family. His grandfather Con Martin and uncle Mick Martin played for Ireland while his father Gerry Garvan featured in the League of Ireland.
Adam Rooney (Stoke City) Born: 21/4/1988. U21 caps: 4.
Adam’s instinctive skills in front of goal have served Ireland and Stoke well over the past 18 months in 2005/06. Was part of the Irish Schools team that won the Centenary Shield three seasons ago.
Snapped up by Stoke City after notching the only goal in Ireland’s Under-17 win against France in Paris.
Scored the winner again for the Republic’s Under-18’s in their 1-0 victory over Malta in April 2006 and completed his club season with Stoke by netting a hat-trick against Brighton.
More hat-tricks followed on International duty - against Belarus and Bulgaria - for the U19s and he progressed up the line to the U21’s.
Was loaned out to Chesterfield in a four-month deal in August 2007.
Billy Clarke (Ipswich Town) Born: 13/12/87. U21 caps: 4.
Cork-born striker who showed sharp reflexes to finish as joint top-scorer of the U19 first phase UEFA qualifying tournament on three goals. He has scored 13 times in total at underage level for Ireland.
The former Maymount Rovers player is a firm favourite at Portman Road following his rapid rise into the first-team at 17 years old. Signed a new contract to keep him at Ipswich until 2009 to stave off interest from Premiership clubs in the 2006/7 season.
Billy was picked for the Irish ‘B’ squad in November 2006 for the game against Scotland but injury forced him out of contention. He was transferred on loan to Falkirk on 31/01/'08 until the end of the season.
Conor Sammon (University College Dublin). Born: 13/4/87. U21 caps: 1.
Dubliner Connor has grown into one of the most highly-regarded young striker in the eircom league during 2007.
His power and pace have made him a real handful for defences in the Premier Division.
Sammon was one of UCD’s key players during their trail to the final of the eircom League Cup in 2007 for a meeting against holders Derry City.
Caught the eye of Irish U21 manager Don Givens and earned his maiden call-up to the squad for the UEFA qualifier against Portugal.
Keith Treacy (Blackburn Rovers) – Born: 13/9/88. U21 caps: 0.
Keith is a tricky and fast attacking left footed player who can play wide on the left flank or up front. A player with an abundance of technically ability, he is a potential match-winner.
Was recently granted a new long-term contract at Blackburn Rovers and manager Mark Hughes has indicated it's a case of when, rather than if, Keith makes his Premiership debut. Was an unused substitute for Rovers in their final Premiership game of the 2006/7 campaign against Reading.
Has terrified full-backs with his wing-wizardry in the past and learnt his trade at famous nursery club, his local side Belvedere YC.
Injuries curtailed his participation in the UEFA Elite qualifiers but in the one match he played the entire 90 minutes, he won the man of the match award against Bulgaria.
After winning 12 Under-19 caps, he was selected for both the U21 matches against Holland and Portugal but each time couldn’t participate due to a thigh injury.
Manager: Don Givens
Don Givens was one of Ireland's finest ever goal scorers, netting 18 goals in 56 appearances, including a record four goal haul against Turkey in 1975.
His club career began with Manchester United, where he made five appearances, before moving on to Luton, QPR, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Sheffield United and Neuchatel Xamax in Switzerland.
He coached the Swiss club for a number of years and was also on the staff at Arsenal before being appointed Republic of Ireland U21 manager in 2000.