Nearly two years ago Sean O'Conaill wrote this piece about Irish players signings for British clubs post-Brexit. It specifically says "UK clubs will be locked out of signing Irish players until they are 18."
Yesterday, Irish U17 player Cathal Heffernan signed for AC Milan. Heffernan has joined a growing list of Irish players that play outside of Ireland or Great Britain. The list of clubs that now have Irish underage players includes Villarreal, Bordeaux, Wolfsburg, Schalke 04 and AC Milan's fierce rivals Inter Milan. Rewinding only a short number of years, and it would have been almost unheard of that a young Irish player would sign for a top European club outside of England or Scotland.
As evidence would suggest, this can only be beneficial to the Republic of Ireland senior team and might mean better days are ahead. This is also a significant change to how Irish players were traditionally developed. For 100 years or more, the best players were exported to the UK and developed at club-level. The Irish national team's success was then largely a consequence of the ability of English clubs to train and coach their players.
Brexit must be one of the reasons for this change. Given that the vast majority of players that play professional football are signed with full-time professional clubs before the age of 18, the inability of English clubs to import from Ireland, until a player turns 18 years of age, places them at a distinct disadvantage.
Should the current rules remain in place, it is likely that a growing number of Irish players will move to other Europe countries and top European leagues rather than the traditional routes to the top offered in England and Scotland.