Wednesday, March 13, 2019

LAST week will go down as the best of my footballing career as I received my first call-up to the Republic of Ireland senior squad for the European Championship qualifiers away to Gibraltar and at home to Georgia.

I found out early on Monday morning and it was the most unbelievable moment you could ever imagine when I got the phone call. We had a day off and I had a little bit of a lie-in but when I woke, I had numerous missed calls from the Newport County manager, the chairman and the secretary and I was wondering what I had done wrong.

I called the manager back first and he told me the news and to check my email for full details. It caught me by surprise, partly because I was called-up but also because I wasn’t fully awake yet!

Although it was brilliant to find out the news of my call-up on Monday, it was also torturous because the squad wasn’t going to be announced until Thursday, so I had to keep it to myself and my family because of the embargo.

I wanted to tell everyone because I was so proud of the achievement and it was the biggest moment of my career, but I waited until Thursday when it was officially announced by the FAI.

It felt like the longest week ever, but once the announcement was made that unbelievable feeling came back and it is so hard to try to explain how happy and excited I was. I am usually not stuck for words but for once I was struggling.

Mick McCarthy named a 38-man squad which will be trimmed down before the first game. Hopefully I can make the final squad for the qualifiers and get a chance to show what I can do because it will be the proudest moment of my career and a dream come true if I got the chance to pull on the green shirt for the senior national team.

For as long as I can remember (Alan McLoughlin’s goal against Northern Ireland in 1993 is my first memory of an Ireland game) I have wanted to play for Ireland. It is the pinnacle of a footballer’s career to play for your country and there is no bigger honour. That is why I am desperate to take this chance.

It has been a long road and one of the more unconventional routes for an International call-up, but it has been worth every knock back I have ever received which makes me more determined than ever. So hopefully this is the beginning of something big for me.

Before that Newport have two massive league games which will probably make or break our season. We play Northampton Town tonight (Tuesday) away from home and it is going to be a very tough game as they have really picked up their form since they changed manager.

They were one of the pre-season promotion favourites and rightly so with the squad of players they had, but for one reason or another it just didn’t click for them and then they couldn’t get out of a rut until they changed manager.

Since then though they have been good so if we are to get anything from the game, we will need to be on it from the first minute

We then have a very quick turnaround as we play on Friday night against Cheltenham Town at home. The game was supposed to be on Saturday but the police over here requested the game be changed because of the big rugby game between Ireland and Wales in Cardiff clashing on Saturday and there will be a big police presence needed for that game.

It isn’t ideal for us to have three games in just six days but there is nothing we can do about it.

We owe Cheltenham after they beat us away from home earlier in the season in the league so hopefully we can get revenge this weekend. I hope I can score a couple of goals to impress Mick McCarthy and give myself the best chance of being on that plane to Gibraltar.

Being called up is already the best moment of my footballing career, but nothing would ever top getting capped

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