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Dreams do come true – Dawson

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Yeovil Town's Kevin Dawson celebrates during the npower Football League One Play Off Final at Wembley. Picture credit: Jonathan Brady / PA Wire.

Yeovil Town's Kevin Dawson celebrates during the npower Football League One Play Off Final at Wembley. Picture credit: Jonathan Brady / PA Wire.

Yeovil Town's Kevin Dawson celebrates during the npower Football League One Play Off Final at Wembley. Picture credit: Jonathan Brady / PA Wire.

A YEAR to the day after he was on the receiving end of a lesson in League of Ireland football, Dublin lad Kevin Dawson had a far more enjoyable day out with a successful trip to Wembley in a Yeovil Town side which won the League One promotion play-off final in style.

And the former Shelbourne man says that his story, which he describes as a "fairytale", should give hope to young lads still playing back home in Ireland that, if dedication is mixed with talent, great things can follow.

Twelve months ago, Dawson was a fringe player with a struggling Shelbourne side (he only really established himself at Shels in the second half of the 2012 season), but next term the 22-year-old will be lining up against clubs he used to watch in the Premier League.

"I've already been thinking about the games we'll have next season," Dawson told The Herald. "Leeds, Blackburn, Nottingham Forest, Wigan – we will be playing them and on our own terms.

"One of my uncles, Pat, is a big Leeds fan so that's something to really look forward to, playing at somewhere like Elland Road, against players who had been in the Premier League.

"Look at the players that clubs like QPR and Reading have, look at someone like Forest who have won the European Cup. To be in there with all of those names is just a great feeling.

Turnaround

"It's a big turnaround for me in the space of a year. Someone reminded me that, a year to the day before we won the play-off at Wembley and got promoted, I was playing for Shels when we lost 3-0 to Sligo, who gave us a bit of a hammering.

"Yet, exactly 12 months on from that there I was, at Wembley in front of 42,000 people, in a game we won," added Dawson.

While some players leave the League of Ireland and move to the UK with a bit of fuss and noise behind them, Dawson's exit – at the end of the 2012 League of Ireland season – was a lot quieter.

But the clubs and scouts who failed to spot his talents will be kicking themselves as Dawson proved to be a real find for Yeovil's clever boss Gary Johnson, Dawson initially coming to the club on the recommendation of his pal and future Yeovil team-mate Paddy Madden.

"I didn't have an awful lot on my CV when I came over here but what I did have was dedication," he says.

"I honestly think that if you want it bad enough, and if you work hard enough, you will get it.

"I was always eager to get to England and prove myself over here, but I know that they don't hand out contracts for nothing. I had to earn my contract and the right to be here, and maybe other players in the league can see that, no matter what level you're at, if you are willing to work you can get there.

"I was happy to play in the League of Ireland First Division and learn my trade there, and next season I'll be at a club that's one division away from the English Premier League."

The Dawsons enjoyed the end of the league season in England as his older brother, Stephen, was part of a Barnsley side which overcame the odds to stay up.

The family are already relishing a Barnsley-Yeovil clash in the Championship next season, as Kevin tries to get to grips with what happened on Sunday.

"It was an amazing, amazing day. I still don't think it has sunk in for me.

"To get to play at Wembley just a few months after I moved to England, and to win the game, is the stuff that you dream about as a kid.

"It just went so well for me over here, I got into the team at Yeovil right away and stayed there. I think Sunday at Wembley was my 24th start in a row and I'm just so happy with how it has gone for me."

Yesterday was a day of rest for Dawson, who was physically and mentally drained by Sunday's events.

"I had to take it easy. I just went for a swim and a Jacuzzi with my brother, who was over for the game, I just needed to take a step back," he says.

"After the game I couldn't feel my legs, I was so tired. On Sunday, we went for a few drinks after the game but I could hardly sleep that night, the adrenaline was pumping and even though it was late when we got to bed I was up at 8am.

Celebrating

"Today is another matter. The club and the local council have an open-top bus planned for us around the city, so we'll do more celebrating."

After that it's back to Dublin for a short holiday before a trip to the sun. His long-term future at Yeovil has yet to be arranged as he's out of contract but the club are eager to keep him and he wants to stay. And even though the riches of the Championship lie in wait, a champagne lifestyle is far away. "We're on the boat home to Dublin from Holyhead tomorrow, the private jets can come for us some other time," he jokes.


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