Lawlor: permanent move can open door
Former Manchester City man Ian Lawlor hopes that his move down the divisions can help him get on the ladder at international level.
The 22-year-old has, since a sudden move away from Manchester City to League Two outfit Doncaster Rovers, made two appearances and he came on the winning side both times, so his Doncaster side are now four points clear at the top of the League Two table and well-placed for promotion back to League One.
Artane lad Lawlor is clearly enjoying life as No. 1 at Doncaster under boss Darren Ferguson but he's also looking ahead when it comes to the international side.
Darren Randolph is safely established as first choice under Martin O'Neill and, given his own run in the first team in the Premier League, is unlikely to be dislodged any time soon.
But Lawlor is one of the younger Irish keepers hoping to challenge the likes of Keiren Westwood and cement a place in the squad under O'Neill.
Lawlor has already been given a taste of the senior international scene. First called up by Martin O'Neill in 2014, when he was in the squad and an unused sub for a London friendly against Italy and then a two-game tour of the USA, Lawlor was also called up last year, as cover for the double header against Georgia and Moldova and again in the provisional squad for the win over Austria.
He knows that Ireland won't happen overnight but the Home Farm product knows that exposure with his new club will help.
"By playing football on a Saturday every week, it will give me a much better chance of getting into that squad," says Lawlor, now over-age for the U21 panel.
"It was such a big boost for me when I got called into the senior squad before, it is something I have dreamed of since I was a kid, like every Irish footballer I suppose.
"I have now had that experience of being in the squad and being on the bench. Myself and Danny Rogers were in last year and it was brilliant for the two of us," he added.
"I won't look too far ahead as there are some very good, very experienced keepers ahead of me. I know I need to get a run of games now at club level and if it's going well at club level, things might happen with Ireland.
"I will be so proud to get into the squad but that's for the future, for now I have to work hard with the club and see how I can do when it comes to playing every week."
Rival keepers Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Brian Murphy (Cardiff) and Stephen Henderson (Nottingham Forest) have all played in the Championship, two levels above Lawlor, this season but the Doncaster man is just glad for the opportunity.
"Once you are playing, that's the main thing," he says.
"Playing competitive football every week is the most important factor and once you get games and show what you can do in games that matter, not just reserve matches, you have a chance."
Doncaster, who have (aside from Lawlor) another Home Farm product from the northside in their squad in the form of former Drogheda United and Bohemians man Paul Keegan (32), have dropped just two points from their last seven games in the race to get into League One.