Cowan can't wait to earn Spurs in Cup for Stevenage
NOT so long ago, his dream was simply to make the grade with Shamrock Rovers.
But now, a lengthy FA Cup run is the realistic aim for Dubliner Don Cowan and little-known League One side Stevenage, as they prepare to face Tottenham in the next round of the FA Cup, that home draw with Spurs their reward for Saturday's win over Notts County.
Cowan and his club have gone under the radar of the Irish football scene as there was little fuss when the Tallaght lad moved from Longford Town to Stevenage last year.
It has taken him time to settle at the club, based just outside London, and he has yet to score in seven games. But Cowan is happy with his lot and hopes that their remarkable FA Cup run can keep going, even though Spurs are about as big a draw as they could have got, given that clubs such as Manchester United and Aston Villa are already out of the tournament.
"Like any Irish kid, I grew up watching the FA Cup final on TV and I enjoyed seeing all the shocks along the way, so maybe it's our turn to do something special with Stevenage this season," Cowan told the Herald.
"We feel that on our day we can take on anyone. We went to Reading earlier this month and beat them 1-0, that was an amazing experience, to win 1-0 at the Madejski Stadium against a big club.
"So hopefully we can go a long way in the Cup. It would be amazing for me on a personal level to play against one of the big clubs from the Premier League," added Cowan, who was an unused substitute on Saturday.
"A while back, the only thing I thought about was doing well in the League of Ireland and getting into the team at Shamrock Rovers, so it really is a dream come true to get a chance in England and play in a good division like League One."
The striker had a busy career as a schoolboy, lining out for local side St Mark's Celtic, then spending time on the books of the youth sides at St Pats, Shamrock Rovers, Pats (again) and Crumlin United before he returned to Rovers.
He did make the first team, playing a number of first-team games (four league appearances as a sub) under Michael O'Neill in the 2009 season, when Rovers finished as runners-up to Bohemians, but the following season he was dispatched to Longford Town on a loan deal.
"Tony Cousins, the manager at Longford, really turned things around for me," said Cowan.
"My confidence was low at the time, but Tony worked on me, he got my confidence up and I got into my stride at Longford."