‘Everyone is buzzing for Adam’ - City starlet inspires in Ireland but success comes as no surprise
Douglas Community School
Youngsters at Douglas Community School couldn’t wait to get stuck into football training after being inspired by Adam Idah’s rise to fame at Norwich City – a success that many in Cork have been expecting since the prolific striker’s formative years.
Kevin Ronayne coached Idah at under-14 and under-15 levels, both at the school and local club College Corinthians, and remembers one match in particular when the Canaries prospect showed he had something special about him.
"His scoring record at international level is incredible and he always seems to score on his debut, even on his first start for Norwich in pre-season he scored a couple," Ronayne explains. "He scored 40 goals a season regularly and one of the times that stands out in my mind is we played a team called Greenwood in a league game.
"They were one of the top teams in a particularly strong Cork league and Adam was aware there were a few scouts attending - and scored five goals.
"But in the first four goals he had scored three with his right foot and one was a header, so I said to him from the sideline that he hadn't scored one with his left yet. Then he goes through to score his fifth, is about to score with his right foot but remembers, switches to his left and scores, then runs over with a little wink in my direction!"
It's that ability and confidence which ensured many in the 18-year-old's hometown of Douglas were aware of his burgeoning talent, which has seen him rise through the Republic of Ireland youth ranks with an incredible scoring record, with the Canaries aware they had a big talent on their hands when he came in on trial in 2017.
That came to fruition on Saturday when Idah became the youngest player to ever score a hat-trick for City, scoring three of the goals during a 4-2 win at Preston in the FA Cup third round on just his second senior start, having signed a long-term contract last summer as he was promoted to the first team squad.
"We've been aware of his talent for a long time, so it's not really a surprise to us, we've been waiting for it to happen," a clearly proud Ronayne continued, who coached Idah alongside Sean Fahy during his school days.
"We're an extremely strong school in sports and Adam is the next player to make it as a professional for us. Adam O'Reilly was on the bench for Preston on Saturday as well, so Adam had a chat with him after the game, and Eoghan O'Connell was playing for Rochdale against Newcastle in the cup as well - he played against Barcelona in the Champions League for Celtic, against Lionel Messi.
"So we have a very strong tradition but everyone is buzzing for Adam and the impact he has had on the young lads is huge, they were itching to get into training and Adam's pictures are plastered all over the walls in his Norwich jersey, it's a great focal point for them to take inspiration from."
Idah enjoyed plenty of success during his time at Douglas Community School, playing an important part in four Cork county titles and three Munster regional titles, reaching the semi-finals of national competitions as well.
With his physical stature and speed often making him the "standout player" and allowing him to play at higher age groups, Ronayne points to a great attitude allowing Idah to make the most of his natural talents.
"The last summer that he came back from training with Norwich, he was straight round to my house to ask for a bag of balls so that he can get in some shooting practise," he added.
"His attitude has never been anything less than outstanding, he treats everyone the same and with maximum respect, by playing at his highest level whoever he's playing against."
Idah also showed talent in other sports, including athletics, hurling and Gaelic football, but it was football which was always in pole position and his first steps at Norwich saw College Corinthians coaches take their U16 squad to Colney for a match against a Norfolk U16s team in April 2017.
Ronayne recalled: "We got to meet Wes Hoolahan and see the training facilities, and also went to Carrow Road to watch a game against Brighton, who were about to be promoted at the time, it was a brilliant experience."
There is more to Idah than just goals however, as the youngster's former coach points to his first goal against Preston, finishing one-on-one after a fine run, explaining: "He's always chipped in with goals but his all-round game and link-up play, his ability, is brilliant. One season at Corinthians we were looking at how we could take it to the next level, so he would go out to the left wing and wait, cut in from the left, and with his speed and strength teams just didn't know how to play him.
"He's big and strong but he also showed he's got bags of skills against Sweden for the Ireland Under-21s at the end of last year."
It may just be the start for Idah's professional career but it's clear those in his home town have big confidence that his landmark hat-trick is the start of something special.