Reading clinched promotion to the Premiership today which has to be good news for the Ireland and American national sides. Hahnemann in goals and former Cork City striker Kevin Doyle are generally considered to be have been their star performers this season. Convey also seems to have forced his way onto the first X1.
The Doyle story is an interesting one as he didn't follow the typical path to playing in England that Irish kids have traditionally take i.e. leaving school at 16, moving over to a club in England, a tiny minority make it while the rest slide down through the tables and end up moving back to try play League of Ireland football.
Like John O'Shea, Doyle actually finished school and then signed for St. Patrick's Athletic in Dublin before moving to Cork City in 2003 at the age of 20. Last Summer he signed for Reading for just £85,000 and has scored 15 goals for them already this season. With Robbie Keane playing very well these days, the prospect of Doyle and Keane up front for Ireland is exciting.
Every club in the top division of the league of Ireland is now full-time professional so I think this is a model we will see become more and more common where kids choose to finish school, then play professionally for a couple of years in Ireland before moving to a British club if there is interest. I think this works well for all parties as the Irish clubs can get some half-decent money especially when they insist on sell-on clauses, the British clubs get a little more of a known quantity in that they are buying a player who has played for a couple of years for a professional club in front of 5000 people as opposed to a raw 16 year old. The player gets to have some experience under his belt before he makes the move and also gets to do it at an age (18-21) where he is more mature and less likely to let it all go to his head and throw it away.