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Dagger Jack’s just the lad for Republic of Ireland under-21s

Jack Connors and Stuart Lewis do battle in Daggers' 2-0 defeat in April at Adams Park. Pic: Dave Simpson/TGSPHOTO Jack Connors and Stuart Lewis do battle in Daggers' 2-0 defeat in April at Adams Park. Pic: Dave Simpson/TGSPHOTO

Monday, May 19, 2014
6:36 PM

It’s been a whirlwind season for Dagenham & Redbridge youngster Jack Connors, and it’s been rounded off by his latest achievement – a call-up to the Republic of Ireland under-21 team.

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The 19-year-old only signed his first professional deal with the club last summer having come up through the club’s Academy.

And now 12 months down the line he could be playing in his first international game after being called up for the Republic of Ireland under-21s for this weekend’s game against Qatar’s Olympic squad on Saturday in Aachen, Germany.

The youngster himself never predicted such a first season as a professional footballer.

“I would never have expected this when I first started,” said Connors, who qualifies to play for the Republic of Ireland through his father.

“I heard out on Monday through an email from one of the Ireland under-21 coaches but I knew about the possibility after being called to one side at the Hartlepool United home game earlier in the season.

“It will be a good experience to play international football and especially at my young age, I am sure I’ll be one of the younger ones in the team but it can only help me learn even more about myself and the game.”

Connors rocketed on to the scene at Daggers and signed a new two-year deal at the end of October last year, such was his success.

And though he was content with how his first season went,as he scooped the Young Player of the Year award, Connors knows more will be expected of him in his second campaign.

“It was a step into the unknown for me, but in a way it was the same for all the teams I faced,” he added.

“They didn’t know what to expect but I have had that year and I am sure there are areas other teams will target but it is up to me to improve my game as well. Hopefully I can build on my first season and continue to progress.”

Connors is not the only international amongst the Daggers ranks, with Gavin Hoyte recently earning selection for Trinidad & Tobago for friendly matches against Argentina next month.

Sean Shields has also had the experience with Northern Ireland under-21s and admits he was someone he went to for advice.

“I’ve had a little chat with him to let him know my news and we talked about what I should expect,” he remarked.

“It’ll be a big test but hopefully if I get my chance I can impress.”

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