Albion fans of a certain vintage might remember Irish football manager Stephen Kenny from a few years back.

If they do, it won’t be with a smile on his face. An angry scowl, more like.

Kenny was the manager of the home team when the Seagulls were involved in the infamous Battle of Longford during a pre-season fixture in the summer of 2001.

No one was smiling very much on that stormy evening in the Irish Midlands after a mass on-field brawl.

But Kenny was certainly grinning this week, helped by two Albion youngsters, as his side shone in the south of France.

Aaron Connolly set up one goal and scored another, all in the first five minutes of his debut for the Republic of Ireland under-21s, of whom Kenny is now in charge.

Jayson Molumby, relishing his football again after conquering a serious knee injury, was the skipper who led his side to an impressive 4-1 win over China in his nation’s opening fixture of the Toulon tournament.

It gets tougher for the Irish now with much-fancied Mexico providing the opposition in Fos-sur-Mer today (6.30pm BST).

But Connolly has made good on, if not exactly a promise, some purposeful words to The Argus during his goal-laden first half of the 2018-19 season.

The goal-getter from Galway fell out of favour with his national under-19s set-up but has made an immediate impact with the 21s.

He said at the time: “Not every manager is going to favour me.

“I thought I was going to get into it (the under-19 squad). I didn’t think there was going to be a big thing about it. But I just move on, keep scoring goals.

“Hopefully I can even get into the under-21 Ireland team. That’s my next target.

“I haven’t got in the 19s but, hopefully, I push on and keep scoring goals. Nothing is better than playing for your country.”

That was back in October when Noel King was the under-21s boss he was looking to impress.

Connolly was flying at the time, be it in with 11 goals in the under-23s league, with his super strike against Benfica B or five goals in three Checkatrade Trophy games away to strong League One and League Two opponents.

(For context, all three of the teams Albion visited in the Trophy were promoted or made the play-offs while Benfica B’s manager Bruno Lage ended up winning the Portuguese tile with his club’s senior team).

It is a measure of the season Connolly enjoyed that he was named Premier League 2 player of the year, essentially on the strength of half a season.

Injury struck midway through and he then had very limited minutes on loan at eventual League One champions Luton.

But there was no sign of rust inside the first minute in Aubagne as he sped away from his defender tight to the left touchline, got to the byline and picked out Zach Elbouzedi with his cutback.

Four minutes and 30 seconds had been completed by the time the Albion striker latched on to a header, let the ball bounce once and then thumped low and left-footed across the Chinese goalkeeper for 2-0.

Kenny said: “To score within 23 seconds and an absolutely brilliant goal, a great team goal, the players have performed very well. I’m very pleased.

“That Chinese team have had some very good performances.

“We have great young Irish players and we want them to really show what they have got, show the potential they have got and that is the level now they have set.

“They can take great encouragement from that.”

Connolly’s goal will be to make the senior national team and be involved in major competitions.

To that end, the experience being gained this week of coming down from a high very quickly will be invaluable.

But he always comes across as a very mature, matter-of-fact type of character. He doesn’t look, talk, or play like a teenager.

Kenny added: “We can’t pat ourselves on the back too much after this performance.

“That’s the nature of tournament football.

“We have got a game against Mexico who are favourites for it, having been in the final last year with the same group of players.

“It is a very talented Mexican team.”

A kick-off in the relative cool of the evening will help the Irish.

Connolly, taken off after 77 minutes of his debut with the game won, will expect to be red hot again.