Family pride of young Hartlepool footballer given international and Sunderland call up just weeks apart

Talented teenage footballer Cole Kiernan admits he will have to set himself new goals to achieve after making his international and Sunderland first team debut just weeks apart.

Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 12:45 pm
Cole Kiernan from Hartlepool makes his first team debut for Sunderland AFC aged just 17.

The 17-year-old striker from Hartlepool played for the Republic of Ireland’s Under 18 side in a friendly against Austria last month.

He followed that up by being part of the Sunderland first team in their 3-2 EFL cup tie win over Grimsby at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday, October 8.

The former English Martyrs pupil, who is on a two-year scholarship with Sunderland, came on for the final few minutes watched by his proud family and friends.

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Cole Kiernan (left) with parents Jill and Sean and sister Marley at her wedding.

Cole plays for their under 18 and under 23 sides having signed a four-year contract with the club when he was just 14.

His mum Jill Kiernan, of Bishop Cuthbert, Hartlepool, said: “His dad Sean and I have supported Cole over the years and have always been so proud of the hard work he puts in, he goes above and beyond to get the best results.

“Last week when he stood at the side line of the Stadium of Light preparing to run onto the pitch was one of the proudest moments of our life.

“He looked back and gave us a cheeky little smile and we were all bursting with pride.

Cole warming up ahead of his debut for Sunderland AFC's first team.

“I struggled to hold my tears back! It was the best feeling ever.”

Cole put himself forward for Ireland’s national side to honour the Irish roots of his grandad Seamus who died before he was born.

Selectors had shown an interest in Cole last year but he suffered a foot injury that required surgery.

He had not long been playing again when he received the call up to go to Sweden early in September.

Cole's Republic of Ireland kit.

Then, just over a month later, Cole was travelling with Sunderland’s under 23s to a game at Huddersfield when he was told he would be part of the first team the following night.

Jill added: “He said he will have to set new goals.

“His first was to get an international call up and the other was to play with the under 23s.

“But he has gone one step further.”