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Tuesday 14 August 2018

Owen has euro aim

Shamrock Rvs v St Patrick's Ath tonight, Tallaght Stadium (KO 8.0)

On a mission: St Patrick’s Athletic midfielder Owen Garvan wants the Saints to push on and challenge for a European spot
On a mission: St Patrick’s Athletic midfielder Owen Garvan wants the Saints to push on and challenge for a European spot

When you have been picked in the Ireland squad by Giovanni Trapattoni and have played in the Premier League, you've ticked a few boxes.

But for midfielder Owen Garvan, it's a case of a lot done, but more to do, as his aim is to play in European competition for the first time in his long career, in the colours of St Patrick's Athletic.

"Europe is the big incentive for a lot of us, if you get into the top four you have qualified for Europe and then it's a matter of whether you are good enough to go through," Garvan says.

"You have seen over the last few years, with Dundalk's progress, that clubs here can get into Europe and do well, that's where you get the recognition.

"Even though Cork did well by winning the double last year, for people on the outside they need to make their mark in Europe for other people to be fussed about it.

"That's the next step for us all, for Dundalk and Cork and Rovers and us at St Pat's, to make that breakthrough.

"We have good players and want to go on, we want to win the league and do something in Europe, get into the group stages. I am 30 now so I need to do it in the next few years."

It seems like Garvan has been around for a long time - May 2008 was the occasion of his first summons to the senior Ireland squad by new boss Trapattoni (Garvan was an unused sub in Trap's first two games).

August 2013 saw his first game in the Premier League, having helped Crystal Palace get there by beating Watford in the promotion play-off.

March 2018 sees Garvan back in his native Dublin. Life is different as he's not longer on those Premier League wages. Instead it's a more grounded life, where the former Home Farm player works some mornings in the office of the family's insurance firm.

"With training in the evenings it can be a long day so you have to keep busy, so I am happy to do a few hours in the office," says Garvan, who will be busy tonight at the heart of the St Patrick's Athletic midfield in their derby away to Shamrock Rovers.

"You stay grounded here. Over in England, everything is done for you, you want for nothing but you don't appreciate what people do for you as you are used to it.

"Here you just want to play football for the love of it."

For two seasons, Garvan was a Premier League player, but in name only as he only got to make two appearances there for Palace, a casualty of the Premier League rules on 25-man squads. After a two-year stint with Colchester, he was eager to come home last summer and signed for Pats, spurning offers from the USA and Australia.

"The offers were all far away, I had been away from home for 15 years so I wanted to come home, play here as long as I can," he says,already having an LOI background as his dad (Gerry) had a long career, mainly with Shelbourne and Drumcondra, and the switch was not difficult.

"It's not going to be the quality of the Premier League but it's grassroots football, we have loyal fans who love the club," says Garvan.

"Some stuff over there is crazy, fans only see the 11 who play on a Saturday but in the background you have maybe 40 players at the club but only 25 in the squad, you have lads getting paid a lot of money and they can't even play.

"The money there has gone crazy in terms of wages. Something needs to be done in terms of capping it as it's not realistic for fans to keep paying into games as wages go up.

"The lads here are not on the same money as would be the norm in England, the whole lifestyle is different, but the players here work as hard, and put everything they have into it."

Having already earned a derby win, over Bohs, Pat's shape up for another test tonight in Tallaght.

"The main aim is the top four, and see how we progress, we have played most of the teams so far, if we won tonight we will be in touch, we have a run of home games so it could be a good time for us," he added.

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