Torquay United head of youth Geoff Harrop hopes to have another Eunan O'Kane
TORQUAY United are hoping to cash in on new scouting links in both Northern Ireland and Eire by signing four players from the Emerald Isle.
The Gulls have made scholarship offers to two teenagers from the North and two from the South.
"We hope to have answers in the next few days," said United's Head of Youth Geoff Harrop.
"We're very excited, not only about the quality of these boys but also about what it could lead to in the future."
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Harrop and technical development coach Robbie Herrera spent three days in Ulster before Christmas, following up talent tips and meeting new scouting contacts.
They identified two Under-16 players whom they want to join United's Academy next summer.
The two targets in the Republic have come through Malcolm Moore, who is proving to be a valuable addition to the Plainmoor youth staff.
The immensely experienced Moore, who is now overseeing the Under-12 to Under-16 age-groups in United's Centres of Excellence, retired last year as Head Of Academy Recruitment at Ipswich Town.
Ipswich have always had strong links with football in Ireland, on both sides of the border, and Moore's contacts there are already bearing fruit for the Gulls.
"We don't want to release the names of the Irish boys until we're certain of getting them, because there are one or two other clubs interested," said Harrop.
"But we're hoping to be in a position to make an announcement quite soon."
Of course, United have already enjoyed the talents and the transfer market value of one Ulsterman recently.
Eunan O'Kane was plucked out of Coleraine, following his release from Everton, and he progressed so well at Plainmoor that League One AFC Bournemouth eventually paid £175,000 for him last summer.
O'Kane is now holding down a place in an improving Cherries side under 'new' manager Eddie Howe.
But O'Kane came to Plainmoor on a tip after then Gulls boss Paul Buckle attended a UEFA coaching course in Ulster.
The links which Harrop, Herrera and Moore have established are a new, different matter which they hope will lead to more recruits in the future.
FINGERS CROSSED: United's youth team and coaching staff are praying that this Saturday's FL Alliance South-West game against Exeter City goes ahead at Bovey Tracey's Mill Marsh Park (11am).
Because of the weather, the young Gulls have played only one competitive match, a 3-1 win over Cheltenham Town (Dec 8), since November 9, well over two months ago.