'I just wanted to go out there and do myself justice' - Mark Travers relishing Ireland camp
Mark Travers will always look back on May 2019 as the month that changed his life.
The Maynooth youngster was thrust into the spotlight for a stunning Premier League debut with Bournemouth that announced his arrival.
A clean sheet and man of the match performance on his debut against Spurs was followed by a sobering 5-3 defeat to Crystal Palace but the responsibility and exposure to top flight pressure has put Travers into a different bracket.
After starting the season as third choice keeper, he's now got a taste for regular first team action.
Travers is in Portugal this week, training with the Ireland squad at The Campus in Quinta Do Lago. His goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly spoke earlier this week about how he firmly believes Travers has the attitude and ability to operate in elite company.
However, he also warned that minutes on the pitch are the most important part of a goalkeeper's development.
Travers was coy on his future too, having previously stated that a loan move would appeal. "Nobody knows yet," he said, "It's probably too soon to say and we'll probably find out more in ore-season. If that is the option, that I have to go down just to play games, then we'll have to wait and see. Hopefully I train well in pre-season and see where it takes me. I've just turned 20 last week and I want to play as many games as I can next year."
Travers, a promising golfer in his youth who looked to Petr Cech and Shay Given as goalkeeping inspiration, admits that the attention after the Spurs game was headspinning.
"It was unexpected," he said, "I just wanted to go out there and do myself justice. The night before, I didn't think it would go that well but thankfully it did.
"I want to have a good few weeks with Ireland now. I was in the last camp and really enjoyed it. I'm a bit more confident with this time with the two games under my belt."
Travers was on the training pitch in Portugal this morning along with new call-up Luca Connell who admitted that it was 'surreal' to be part of the squad.
Connell (18) is a Liverpool born midfielder that has come through the Irish underage set-up - although he is on England's radar.
The Bolton player says it's an 'honour' to be involved in the squad and was shocked to get the call with Mick McCarthy ringing his father Andrew on Sunday to extend the invitation.
Connell has club matters to resolve in the coming weeks too, with an exit from cash strapped Bolton on the cards as they drop down to League One with a points deduction set to snooker attempts of securing a return. His agent is keeping him on top of things; Connell is out of contract on June 30 so the Premier League clubs on his trail would have to work out a compensation settlement with his current employers.
The highlight of the boyhood Everton fan's introduction to the senior group was meeting up with Seamus Coleman.
"Being from Liverpool but supporting Everton and supporting him through everything, it's brilliant for me," he enthused.
"I spoke to Seamus last night, he welcomed me in. Being the skipper, that's part of his job as well, isn't it? But he's a lovely, lovely fella. I can't thank him enough for welcoming me in."