Team USA Set To Go to War with Team Ireland Over 18-Year-Old Conor Doyle
Fresh from their recent battles with the IFA and the SFA, the Football Association of Ireland are turning their guns towards U.S. Soccer over the services of 18-year-old Conor Doyle.
The Texan recently signed for Championship side Derby County after impressing Nigel Clough in a three week trial during the summer. Clough Jr. was so impressed with the physique and technique of the youngster that he awarded the player with his debut against Crewe Alexandra just four days after Doyle signed on the dotted line.
Doyle began his career in Texas with the Dallas Texans Soccer Club. The club have a huge standing in American soccer and were named second in America's Top 40 soccer clubs for boys and in first place for girls.
Always one of the most progressive clubs in the states, the Dallas Texans recently agreed a coaching exchange with Manchester United where the two clubs will send ideas and advice each others way. It has caused great excitement in Texas, where Manchester United will offer advice and expertise on the development of junior players.
Likewise, players and coaches that are identified by Manchester United as having great potential will also be invited to Carrington for exclusive training sessions with the Red Devils.
During Manchester United's recent Tour of North America, they played against the MLS All-Stars. Before the game, players from the Texans got their chance to train with the Red Devils first team. The video can be seen here.
Over the last 20 years, Texas has become synonymous with American soccer with the state producing many players who have gone on to the professional ranks of the game. Names like Clint Dempsey (England), Jared Jeffries (Germany), Gregory Garza (Portugal), Lee Nguyen (Holland), Hunter Freeman (Belgium), and Conor Doyle (England). In addition to these, countless Texans players have also gone on to play professionally in the MLS.
Doyle played for the Texans at schoolboy level before moving on to play for McKinney Boyd High School. The school only opened in 2006 but has already become a major player in volleyball, American football, wrestling, and cross country. With Doyle's move to England, the reputation of the school has only been enhanced.
The Kansas-born youth only graduated from McKinney last year and went on to earn a scholarship with Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. However, upon the news that Derby County were willing to offer him a two-year deal, the striker understandably decided to give up on his studies.
Conor had this to say on the decision, "It was a big decision to make and I talked to my parents and a lot of family members about it," he said. We decided that school will always be there but this is my dream and I need to follow it.
"It was tough at the beginning but, in the end, it was an easy choice to make. It's always been a dream of mine to play over here, since I was about two or three. Now it's come true and it's unbelievable that it's happened at 18.
"I'm hoping to push on now and move on to bigger things."
Creighton University Bluejays head-coach Jamie Clark could understand the decision completely saying,
"It's our job to help student-athletes prepare both on the field and for a career after school. Conor has been offered a job in the same division as World Cup starters, so this is a big opportunity for him. We will continue to sign and bring in student-athletes that will have the opportunity to move on and play at the highest levels of professional soccer when they leave Creighton."
The Bluejays also have something of a fantastic reputation for producing professional soccer players, with the college contributing 45 players to the professional ranks since 1993 with 10 of those coming in the last four years alone.
With the move to Derby County, young Conor Doyle came into contact with Irish international Paul Green, who has immediately alerted the FAI of the youngster's eligibility.
Doyle's father was born in Ireland before he moved to America to take up a professional soccer career in the now defunct Major Indoor Soccer League. Between 1987 and 1998, David Doyle played for the Kansas City Comets, Dallas Sidekicks, St. Louis Rush, and Wichita Wings, where he scored an incredible 637 goals in 520 games.
His father went to college in Campbell University where he excelled at soccer, making the All-American side in 1986 and setting records that stand to this day.
Doyle now has a coaching role with the Dallas Texans.
With the Irish links, and passport, Derby County did not have to go through many of the formalities they would normally have to travail to sign the American born youngster. As he carries an Irish passport, he is a UK resident as far as the FA is concerned.
The FAI are watching the youth's progress as we speak and with the news that he already has an Irish passport and has so far been overlooked by the USSF's youth set-up it is believed that the FAI may approach the youngster for an U-19 or U-21 international in the near future.
Paul Green only came to the FAI's attention after Giovanni Trappatoni ordered a search of England and Scotland for eligible players. The 27-year-old midfielder is Yorkshire-born and has only been with Derby since 2008. The central midfielder has been one of the Rams' most impressive players over the last two seasons and has won the man-of-the-match award twice in just three internationals for Ireland.
Over the last couple of seasons, the FAI have become embroiled in a number of disputes with rival federations over players.
The SFA took umbrage with the FAI over how they "poached" James McCarthy and Aiden McGeady even though the SFA only started to take notice of the prodigious youths after they had been called up to Sean McCaffrey's underage teams.
Both players may have been born in Scotland, but they were both raised in the Irish way of life and never even considered declaring for the land of their birth.
Back in the '80s, Ray Houghton declared for Ireland after what he described as poor treatment by the SFA who purposely refused to pick players who were not 100 percent Scottish.
More recently, the FAI ended up in the Court of Arbitration of Sport after the IFA deemed their Southern counterparts as poaching their best talent.
Over the last couple of years, three players born in Northern Ireland who have represented the land of their birth at underage level—Darron Gibson, Marc Wilson, Shane Duffy, and Daniel Kearns—have all either declared or stated their desires to declare for the Republic.
This forced the IFA to take a landmark case against the FAI over Daniel Kearns' inclusion in one of McCaffrey's U-19 squads.
The FAI have taken advantage of FIFA's new ruling which states that players who have not played at senior level, regardless of how many underage caps they have, can declare for a country in which they are eligible to play. Shane Duffy captained Northern Ireland through every rank and even sat on the bench for an international, but never played.
The ruling by FIFA came into play after countries like France, Italy, and Germany began playing youth footballers from Africa to tie their nationality up.
The new dictate has left a political loophole open for the Republic of Ireland that they have so far pursued. After the Good Friday Agreement in 1999, it was declared that any person born on the island of Ireland could hold an Irish passport.
Since Northern Ireland has a hugely nationalist population, it immediately opened the door for such declarations.
The landmark ruling by CAS has come as a huge blow to Northern Irish football and could effectively reduce their playing pool by up to 40-percent.
After the case CAS said, "The ruling upholds the right of individual choice on this matter for players born north of the border. I would like to recognise the determination of Daniel Kearns and his family to uphold his right as an Irish citizen to play for his country."
Following the Irish food shortage in the late 1840s the population of Ireland was reduced from almost nine million to around four million through deaths and mass emigration.
As a result, Ireland is now the only country in the world whose population is lower than the figure it had in Napoleonic times. The mass emigration also means that Ireland has one of the widest diaspora's of any nation on Earth.
In some cases such as Kilburn, Liverpool, and Manchester, there is a larger Irish population in these areas than in many major cities in their home country.
For instance, there are an estimated 700,000 people in Argentina of Irish ancestry, approximately 16 percent of Ireland's current population.
That figure grows substantially when you reach the USA. In the last census, around 41 million people declared themselves as either fully or part Irish.
These figures have had a major say in the way the FAI will scout potential Irish players in the future and they have already declared their intent to scout the MLS.
It would seem that Conor Doyle may prove to be a test case between the FAI and the USSF.
"To be honest, I was expecting to have two weeks here before going back to college," he admitted.
"But then I started playing in more and more games and they started talking to me (about signing). It was only then that I started to realise that this really could happen. It's a lot more than I expected.
"My expectations have been raised and now I will be aiming to get on the field a little bit longer," he added. Being young and coming in the team only a couple of weeks before the season starts, you don't necessarily expect to play much.
"But to train with the squad every day is a great experience. I am just hoping to get some games and when I do play, to take that opportunity."
One thing is for sure, he will be given the opportunity to play international football sooner rather than later.