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Saturday 24 August 2019

I felt like I was meant to be there says Travers

MAGIC MOMENTS: Ireland goalkeeper Mark Travers. Photo: SPORTSFILE
MAGIC MOMENTS: Ireland goalkeeper Mark Travers. Photo: SPORTSFILE

A pat on the back from World Cup winner Hugo Lloris after a game where France's No. 1 was outdone by a teenager from Co Kildare was one sign that Mark Travers had, for now at least, made it.

But the impact that the Bournemouth goalkeeper had made following a highly-impressive Premier League debut for the Cherries earlier this month only sunk in a few hours later when he watched himself on TV, with his parents, who had been tipped off that Travers was about to make his debut and were able to attend the game, a 1-0 win for Bournemouth at home to Spurs.

" I had my mam and dad over as well so just chilled out with them and then stuck on Match Of the Day at half ten," Travers says, the Maynooth native currently in Portugal on a training camp with the senior Ireland squad.

"I think it only started to sink in around then. Watching it was a bit surreal. You watch it every week and suddenly they're talking about you, it was unbelievable.

"The night before, you think about everything. But it only hits you in the tunnel when you look across and he [Lloris] is standing there. I think it just gave me more confidence to do well, it didn't make me nervous. I felt I was meant to be there.

"After the game he just pulled me and just said 'well done and keep going'. I'm gutted I didn't ask for his jersey but it was just in the moment that I forgot to ask for it. Hopefully another time."

Ah, another time. Important words for a young Irish goalkeeper as they don't always get more time.

Darren Randolph played for Charlton in the Premier League at the end of the 2006/07... and would wait nine years before he played in that division again.

Keepers like Ian Lawlor and Aaron McCarey have been called into the senior Ireland squad based on club form but remain uncapped.

The challenge for Travers is to sustain what he has done this season and build next term, with his country but also in the Premier League, a harsh place for young talent to blossom.

"The standard is so high these days, people are coming from everywhere. But once you work hard and stay focused there is always going to be an opportunity.

"That's what I kept saying to myself, keep digging in and working hard and an opportunity will come," he says, eager to challenge the likes of Asmir Begovic and Artur Boruc with his club and Darren Randolph at international level.

"I am not here just for the experience, I want to push him as much as I can," the former Lucan United, Cherry Orchard and Shamrock Rovers man says of Randolph.

"The last camp was a great experience, Keiren Westwood is in there as well and I knew I was third choice for that one but I am going to be ready for the games and see what happens."

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