ATHGARVAN’S David Craddock was an unused substitute as Ireland’s under 17 team began the European Championships this morning in Bulgaria with a very a creditable 0-0 draw with the Netherlands. Last week, he spoke to the Kildare Nationalist about his shock call up.
DAVID Craddock was as shocked as anybody when he got a call from Ireland’s under 17 manager Tom Mohan last Monday (27 April) to tell him that he was going to be included in the squad for this week’s European Championships.
The Irish team dramatically became the first Irish underage side to reach the final stages of the European Championships since 2008 in Poland last March but Craddock wasn’t expecting to be part of the squad for the finals.
“This is my first call up for the actual international squad. I played one or two games for the home based team but that’s nothing compared to being in for a big competition like the European Championships,” said the shell shocked teenager when speaking at his home in Athgarvan last week.
Unbeknown to Craddock, Mohan had watched him twice the previous weekend, including in the FAI Umbro Youths Interleague Final, and was impressed.
“It was my first time ever talking to him (Mohan) when I got the call. He had been at the All-Ireland final on the Saturday before and another game the day after. He told me I did very well, commanded my area and he just thought I’d be an excellent addition to the squad,” said Craddock, who was stunned when he got the call telling him of the good news.
“No I wasn’t expecting it, not at all. There was a training camp the previous week and I wasn’t even involved in that. It was just out of the blue o that I got a call saying I was picked for the squad and I was just delighted. I couldn’t scream and shout when I was on the phone, as much as I wanted to, I just had to keep calm and say I was very happy and delighted to be selected,” he said.
Craddock first came to prominence when, as a Newbridge Town player, he represented Kildare in the 2012 Kennedy Cup. His performances there caught the eye of Cherry Orchard and he signed with Dublin side shortly after, where he stayed until signing for Shelbourne at the beginning of this season.
The fifth year Newbridge College student is under no illusions how difficult the week will be. Ireland begin the competition in Bulgaria on Thursday (7 May) against the Netherlands, then play Italy on Sunday 10 May before completing the group against England on Wednesday 13 May.
“England won it last year and are on a good run of form, Italy will obviously be very good and the Netherlands got to the final last final. It’s probably three of the top ten teams in the world so it will be great to see how they play and what their set up is like,” he said.
It was an injury to Tottenham Hotspurs’ goalkeeper Tom McDermott that opened the door for Craddock but he expects to start the tournaments as Ireland’s number two goalkeeper. The other goalkeeper in the squad, Caoimhin Kelleher, will start a four deal with Liverpool in the summer and was an important player during the qualifying series.
“Obviously I’ll be hoping to get a game but being called into the squad late knowing that the other ‘keeper has been there all along, I realise he will be the starting ‘keeper but I just have to show what I can do and hopefully I’ll get selected for one of the games. It’s a big achievement, it’s a big thing to say you are at the European Championships and it gives an insight into what you have to get into future squads,” said Craddock.
He is looking forward to linking up with a very talented squad.
“It’s obviously a very good squad because they are coming off a very good qualifying tournament so I’m sure it’s a confident squad too. There is a great standard of player in the squad, especially the English based players and players born in England who have been called into the squad. It will be great to play with the likes of Conor Masterson who is with Liverpool, Robbie McCourt who is at West Brom, Josh Barrett of Reading. We all have good standards at home here but this is another step up and it will be great to see how I compare to them,” he said.
Craddock hopes to join those signing for clubs across the water by putting pen to paper on a deal with Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen.
“I was over with Aberdeen a few times and I will more than likely will be signing for them. It’s something I really want to do, to further my career in football. They are the only club really looking at me, I really liked it over there, it’s a great set up. By around the end of June a lot of players will heading over to sign before the new season and I hope to be over there.”
But this week his focus is solely on international duty.