By Damian Dolan
After losing out on Declan Rice, Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy has received a boost with former Arsenal midfielder Dan Crowley declaring his loyalty to Ireland.
The highly rated Coventry-born playmaker, and former Roger Casements Gaelic footballer, has represented both Ireland and England at underage.
He is currently impressing for Willem II in the Eredivisie (the Netherlands’ top-flight league).
Crowley, 21, has now asked the FAI to instruct FIFA to transfer his international allegiance to Ireland.
He qualifies to represent Ireland through his grandparents on his father’s side, who come from Waterford and Cork. His mother, Maria, has relations in Mayo.
“I grew up in England and have friends there but never owned an England kit. Ireland were the team I supported at the Euro 2016 finals,” he told the Irish Independent.
“I’ve kept in touch with the FAI scout, Mark O’Toole, over the years and he knows I’d love a call-up.
“Ireland was always the team I supported at international level. I was young at the time but I remember crying my eyes out when Spain won that penalty shoot-out at the 2002 World Cup.
“England is a country I love because I grew up there and my friends live there. I wore a lot of kits as a youngster but never owned an England kit.”
The attacking midfielder has started all 23 of his side’s league games this season, scoring five times, including the winner in last Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Az Alkmaar.
His grandfather, Tom Crowley from Tramore in Co. Waterford, was a member of the Warwickshire 1973 All-Ireland junior winning team which defeated Louth in Arden by 6-9 to 3-8.
In 2009, Crowley captained Coventry-based Roger Casements to an U12 Championship, while his father, Dave, played for St Finbarrs.
“I had a strong Irish upbringing and spent most of my childhood summers playing sports in Tramore, Co Waterford,” he added.
Crowley came through at Aston Villa before joining Arsenal in 2013 when he was 16, where he was dubbed the ‘The Next Jack Wilshere’.
With the transfer process taking between two and four months McCarthy won’t be able to name Crowley in his squad to face Gibraltar and Georgia. He would have to wait until the end of the year to make his senior Ireland debut.