THE THREE AMIGOS Republic of Ireland Under-15 players from Westport, from left, Adam Nugent, Conor Walash and Daniel Kelly. Pic: Sportsfile
ONE man stole the show at last Thursday afternoon’s UEFA Under-15 Development game between the Republic of Ireland and Latvia in Castlebar. His name? Adam Nugent!
The striker was one of three Westport United youngsters – including Daniel Kelly and Conor Walsh – to be named as part of Jason Donohue’s squad for the three-day tournament taking place in Mayo.
A huge crowd turned out at Milebush to catch a glimpse of the three homegrown stars in the national jersey, and Nugent delivered exactly what they all came to see.
After being sprung from the bench in the second half, the Rice College student hit the net twice; scoring with basically his second and third touches of the ball to send the home crowd into a mini frenzy on his Republic of Ireland debut.
The talented teenager also got his name on the scoresheet on Saturday against Faroe Islands at Westport’s Sports Park.
“I’m absolutely delighted, it’s unreal,” he told The Mayo News on the pitch after Thursday’s game. “Just playing for your country and then scoring two goals, just tops off the whole week.
“I was getting nervous when I got the call to warm up, a lot of nerves get in your stomach, then you hear your name being called and there was all the screaming and shouting, you’re thinking ‘is this actually happening?’.
“It was amazing.”
The trio received a memorable ‘guard of honour’ formed by their school friends as they made their way off the Milebush turf and into the confines of the dressing rooms afterwards.
Conor Walsh and Daniel Kelly were unused substitutes on that day, but all three Westport lads started last Saturday on the pitch where they learned their trade – United’s famous Sports Park.
Hundreds turned out on a famous day for Westport United, with the Republic of Ireland seeing off the Faroe Islands on a 4-0 scoreline.
The Sports Park has witnessed some of the most memorable days in Westport United’s storied history and last Saturday afternoon was another unique chapter.
Second Year student Daniel Kelly had the honour of wearing the captain’s armband and also got his name on the scoresheet on a day that he and his family will never forget.
“It’s surreal,” he told The Mayo News on Thursday. “I’m so delighted for Adam to get the two goals on his first appearance.
“It’s unreal to have the three of us here from the same club, to grow up together and play club together, and now getting to play for Ireland together, it’s unreal.
“There was a great buzz around Westport all week, everyone was really looking forward to it and to finally get the jersey on was great.”
Walsh and Kelly also started yesterday’s (Monday’s) 8-0 victory over Luxembourg on Ballina Town’s home pitch.
The Westport trio lined out alongside many of the Dublin District Schoolboys League players whom they faced in the final of the Kennedy Cup a few months ago, including stars like Kevin Zefi (remember the name) and Sam Curtis (Ireland’s own David Luiz!).
One of the stars that day in the University of Limerick was Mayo goalkeeper Conor Walsh, who recorded another clean sheet for himself while wearing the Republic of Ireland number one jersey last Saturday, as well as following that up in Ballina on Monday.
“It’s been very nice to be able to come home and play football for Ireland in your home town,” he admitted. “I’ve been looking forward to this day for a while now.
“It’s a different feeling playing for Ireland in Mayo. It doesn’t come around every day and it’s a real pleasure to put on the Irish jersey.
“It’s great to be able to make your family and your county proud.”
After their displays over the three days, it surely will be a matter of when — and not if — the Westport trio represent the Republic of Ireland again.