WITH two senior caps on his CV, Cork man David Meyler has already achieved a childhood ambition of playing for his country.
But the 23-year-old knows all about the one-cap wonders and flavours of the month who have burst onto the scene with Ireland, played in a few games here and then and then disappeared into the obscurity of a career in League One.
That's one of the reasons why the midfielder is currently attached to Hull City, having dropped down a division from the Premier League to begin a two-month loan spell under Steve Bruce, as he knows he needs game time and access to first team football if he's to retain the attention of Giovanni Trapattoni.
"I have two caps now and they have come around quickly but it's vital that I keep playing on a weekly basis, keep working hard and keep improving," Meyler told the Herald as the Ireland squad continued their preparations for tomorrow's friendly with Greece in Dublin.
"There is another squad in February and I want to be involved in that as well. I don't want to be one of those players who gets four or five caps and is never heard of again, I want to play a lot of games for Ireland.
"It has happened to a lot of players in the past and I don't intend to be one of those players, I want to be playing for Ireland for the rest of my career, that's the aim.
"When I look for inspiration I look at people like John O'Shea, who has won medals in his career. That's what it's about, winning things and playing for your country, that's what I want to do. I want to be at the World Cup and European Championships with Ireland. Those are the goals that you need to have," added Meyler, who won his first cap against Oman and then made his competitive debut in the Faroe Islands last month.
"We have so many midfielders with Ireland now that it's hard to get into the squad and for me to stay in the squad and try to get into the team it's vital that I am playing every week, playing well and scoring goals.
"If the Ireland manager thinks 'this lad is doing well', then I can stay in his plans.
"I am 23 now and I need games, I'm not a kid any more. That's the whole thinking behind me going to Hull, to get matches. I'm here until January 1st and after that I can look forward to going back to Sunderland and kicking on from there, pushing to get back into the team.
"I sat down with (Sunderland boss) Martin O'Neill last week and we spoke about me going on loan. After twisting his arm a few times he agreed that it would be best if I could go out on loan and play. I will get around 10 games at Hull in the two months there and it was great for me to get 40 minutes or so at the weekend.
"Hull are a massive club and I'd love to help them get back into the Premier League," he says, happy to have linked up with Steve Bruce again after an initial partnership at Sunderland.
Meyler is still getting to grips with the demands of being in the senior squad and admits that he's fortunate to have some team-mates from his time with the Irish U21s around the place, like Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy.
But he's also very determined to have an international career, despite complaints by managers such as Celtic boss Neil Lennon this week about the demands that international games place on players.
"I can understand why a manager like Neil Lennon would be concerned, possibly having players injured on a Wednesday and missing a big game on the Saturday, but inter-national football is huge. Representing your country is the greatest honour a player can have, to sing the national anthem in front of 40,000 people is amazing so I'd hate to see players being denied the chance to play international football," continued Meyler.
Meyler says he's settling in well at Hull alongside fellow Irishmen Paul McShane, Robbie Brady and Stephen Quinn, though his Cork background has caused a bit of bother in the Hull dressing room. The players there are fans of Sminky Shorts, an online animation series which features characters with a strong Cork accent (do a YouTube search for 'awful sad' or 'I can't do it', but don't let the kids watch it as the language is adults only).
"There are two horses in one sketch and they think I speak like that" jokes Meyler, who is still close to his roots in Cork, having begun with Cork City before Roy Keane took him to Sunderland. "Some of the lads I knew from Cork City are still there, the likes of Mark McNulty and Colin Healy was a brilliant help to me when I started there. I like going back to see how City are doing, they finished in the top half of the table this season and maybe they can push for the title in a year or two."
Meyler is impressed with the young talent emerging from Cork, speaking highly of a lad called Stephen McCarthy who has just signed for Sunderland, but he's not ready to surrender his own place in the Ireland squad just yet. "I have worked hard to get here and I want to stay here so the Greece game could be a good opportunity for me," he says.