Name: Aaron Drinan
At 18 years of age Carrigaline’s Aaron Drinan has already had a stellar youth career in football to date. Having played for Cobh Ramblers and now currently Cork City, not to mention the Republic of Ireland at schoolboy level, Aaron is regarded as one of the brightest Irish prospects who ply their trade in League of Ireland Football. Having made history for Cork City and Irish youth football in October of this year, by scoring the winner in a UEFA Youth League fixture against HJK Helsinki, sending an Irish team into the next round of the competition for the first time in history, a successful career in football seems to lie ahead.
Aaron, along with teammate Alec Byrne, are products of Carrigaline AFC, who have a habit of producing fine young players and are doing the club proud. Having won so much with the club over the years, Aaron attracted attention from Cobh Ramblers, for whom he started training in January of 2015. After impressing during training the club decided to make it official and announced that they had signed Drinan for their U19 side, on transfer deadline day, for the 2015 season. Despite admitting that there were some early nerves when signing for the club Aaron immediately made an impact and scored 3 goals in 3 games. His time at Cobh was very brief as he was snapped up by Cork City, however Aaron looks back on his time with the ‘Ramblers’ with great fondness. “My experience at Cobh was really great, being able to play League of Ireland football from a young age is really important and I’m sure that the time I spent at Cobh stands to me today.”
After impressing with Cobh, Cork City clearly liked what they saw and quickly swooped in to snap up the teenager. The ‘Leesiders’ under 19 team had great success in Drinan’s first year at the club and they won the league. This year the club added more silverware to the trophy cabinet, by winning the Enda McGuill Cup and the bond that the team has, along with the quality of training, is all central to their success according to Aaron, “The best part about playing for Cork City is just the standard of training and the setup is just top class! Members of the squad this year are very close with each other, which definitely helps on the pitch, and allows us to perform at our best.” However it has been the inclusion of players from this team into the senior squad, which has grabbed attention recently. Although Aaron himself has not yet slotted in alongside the senior stars, he has set his sights on reaching this goal for next season. Following an appearance for the senior team in a friendly against Fulham FC in July, where the striker shared a pitch with former England international Scott Parker, getting into the team next year is not an impossibility. “Next year I’m hoping to try and break in with the first team and hopefully the way I’m playing at the moment I hope I get the chance.”
As mentioned earlier Aaron made history by sending Cork City through to the next round of the UEFA Youth League and this is an achievement that cannot be overestimated. With Dundalk proving in Europe that the League of Ireland has potential, the results for Cork’s U19 team reflect this potential also. The standard of the league is continuing to grow and this is represented in the results against HJK Helsinki and Italian giants Roma. Having drawn 0-0 away in Finland, an experience which the Leaving Cert student describes as the first time he felt like a “professional footballer”, a penalty from the 18 year-old in the 46th minute of the home game against the Finnish opposition, was enough to create history for Irish football and set up a historical clash with Roma. In front of an incredible crowd of over 3,000, the welcoming of Roma to Turners Cross will live long in the memory of the young man. On the night Aaron scored an incredible volley, which was arguably the greatest goal to be scored at the ‘Cross’ this season, to equalise for his side. Despite a fantastic performance ‘City’ lost 3-1 and then just last Tuesday were beaten 1-0 in Rome in the 2nd leg of the tie, knocking them out of the competition. Despite the loss Drinan could only take positives from the experiences of the competition, “it was an unbelievable feeling to score against Helsinki and Roma and as they are full time professionals it made it even more meaningful. The feeling when we (the team) were celebrating was sensational. The experience of playing in the Champions League is great, as it gives us a taste of what it’s like to play at the highest level and to test ourselves.”
In March Aaron represented Ireland for the second time at schoolboy level and it would be hard to bet against him putting on the green jersey once again in the future. At the moment balancing school and training is a task in itself for the student, who is preparing for the challenges that the Leaving Certificate brings, “trying to balance school and training is tough because the team are training maybe four or five nights a week and it’s hard to try and study on top of all that,” Aaron explains. The support of his family has been vital for Aaron’s development as a player, a feature which seems to be common with all young successful sports people, “the support from my family has been unreal to be honest from the start. I’ve had family travel over to the both away games with me and it’s great to play in front of them and make them proud.”
Aaron is once again another example of a young athlete from the Carrigdhoun area with major potential and hopefully it won’t be too long until the ‘Shed end’ at Turners Cross are signing songs of praise about the young striker. Good luck Aaron!!!