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O’Donovan: Winning FAI award is massive boost

December 4th, 2022 12:00 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

John O'Donovan received his first Republic of Ireland U18 cap from Donal Conway, FAI Schools' Executive Member.

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AS surprises go, this was a good one to get. John O’Donovan admits he didn't know too much about the FAI Schools International Player of the Year awards until he received an email to tell him he had scooped the men's U18 award.

The Ardfield teenager (18) was selected for this prestigious accolade off the back of his strong performances for Ireland in the Centenary Shield earlier this year.

After impressing in the trials, he played every minute of every game, as the Republic of Ireland took on England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. John starred in the home win against Scotland, which was his first international cap, and was one of the first names on the team-sheet as the young Boys in Green drew against Northern Ireland (2-2) and England (1-1) before losing to champions Wales (2-0). 

‘To play for Ireland was an unreal opportunity, and the standard was very high as well, and to win this award now is another massive boost,’ the highly-rated defender told The Southern Star.

 

The former Ardfield FC prodigy who learned his trade in the West Cork Schoolboys League and starred for his home league in the Kennedy Cup, now finds himself in good company. Previous winners of the FAI Schools International Player of the Year Award include former Ireland defender Stephen Ward, current Ireland internationals Alan Browne and Ryan Manning, former Cork City striker Sean Maguire, as well as former Bantry Bay Rovers striker Connor Ellis in 2016.

‘That’s some list of players alright … I’m a bit off that mark, but who knows what will happen in the future,’ the first-year UCC Arts student said.

John’s focus now is on next season with Cork U19s, his fourth with the club having signed for the U17s in 2019. This will be his second campaign with the U19s and he’s also hoping to catch the eye of Cork City first team manager Colin Healy.

‘We have a strong bunch of U17s coming up now and the U19 team next season will be the same team that won the cup final (National League of Ireland U17 Mark Farren Cup) last year, so hopefully it should be a good season,’ the West Cork soccer star explained.

‘The aim is to play well with the U19s and hopefully Colin Healy will spot me and bring me in, and I’ll get a chance to test myself there. I want to move up the ladder and push on, and I know that’s going to take a lot of hard work, but let’s see what happens.’

Boosted by winning the FAI Schools International Player of the Year, he can’t wait for the 2023 season to roll around and build on the momentum of his memorable 2022 campaign.

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