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Eoin Hayes and his Newmarket Celtic colleagues face a trip to either Dublin or Offaly in January. Photograph by Eugene McCafferty

Clare striker named in Ireland squad for UEFA qualifiers

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Newmarket Celtic’s Eoin Hayes has been named in the Republic of Ireland squad for the upcoming UEFA Regions Cup qualifiers.

Republic of Ireland amateur international manager, Gerry Davis has included Clare’s Hayes in the 18-man squad with the Newmarket-On-Fergus native considered a key attacking option.

Hayes captained his country against Northern Ireland last month while he also found the net in the same tie. He first lined out with the national side in 2016 and has been an ever-present part of the squad since.

There will be 14 Regions Cup debutants in the squad after impressing during the four-match winning streak in back-to-back matches against Wales and Northern Ireland.

Rockmount’s Brendan O’Connell is set to captain the side having been one of only two players selected to have won the Regions Cup in 2015, the other being St. Michael’s midfielder Jimmy Carr.

Ireland are set to face San Marino on Tuesday, October 25, with kick-off at 9am, Romania on Friday, October 28, with kick-off at 9am and finally, Bulgaria on Monday, October 31, with kick-off at 1pm.

All three games will be played in Bulgaria. This will be the first edition of the UEFA Regions Cup since the 2018/19 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Davis is looking forward to the challenge as he tries to find the balance between youth and experience in his squad.

“We’re delighted with the way the team has progressed in the last four matches, not just because we’ve won all of the matches but also the way the players have taken on instructions and formed a real bond in the squad,” said Davis.

“We’ve got plenty of debutants to the Regions Cup in the squad but also a number of players who featured in 2017 and two who were part of the 2015 Regions Cup winning squad so the benefit of that experience will be invaluable to the younger players in the squad.”

“We can be confident heading to Bulgaria at the end of the month and the players should be looking forward to the challenge. There is a great geographical spread in the squad with players from all over the country travelling and we’ve got six players on stand-by as well.

“Congratulations to all of the players on their call-up and also sympathies with the lads who just missed out on the final squad who’ve been brilliant over the last four matches.”

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