Huge Cork contingent expected in Stephen Kenny’s first Ireland XI

It’s not often that Cork can boast three players in a Republic of Ireland starting XI.

We still have a couple of hours to wait before Stephen Kenny unveils his first Ireland XI but, apparently, he has looked to Cork for a significant chunk of his team for tonight’s clash with Bulgaria.

Bulgaria will host Ireland in the Uefa Nations League tonight and it’s an occasion that will live long in the memory of Kenny, who has likely spent years devising how he would instil his footballing philosophy on the national team.

And according to the early leaked news of the Ireland XI, he is not shying away from the challenge.

Cork publication The Echo reports that the Rebel County trio of Adam Idah, John Egan and Conor Hourihane are set to start against Bulgaria. The news report comes from Cork City player Graham Cummins.

While Bandon’s Hourihane has quite a bit of experience at international level, Idah and Egan have fewer than 10 caps between them.

Idah, at 19, is said to be the forward around whom Kenny could build an exciting, creative attacking unit.

Ahead of naming his first Ireland XI, Kenny didn’t hold back with his praise of Norwich’s Idah, with whom he worked quite a bit at Under-21 level, in the build-up to Thursday’s game in Sofia.

The new Ireland boss told RTE: “Adam is quite a laid-back guy. He’s a very, very nice person, just laid-back. He’s just a very relaxed, chilled guy.

“He loves playing for his country, turns up every single time at every age group all the time, trains all the time, recovers well after matches quickly and has consistently scored goals.

“It’s obviously a step up at this level – he’s not played that many games for Norwich’s first team. He’s played some games and got a hat-trick, of course, but he’s still learning the game. He has a good future ahead of him, we feel.”

The team Ireland will reportedly field:

Randolph, Doherty, Egan, Duffy, Stevens; McCarthy, Hourihane, Hendrick; O’Dowda, Connolly, Idah.

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