Friday 18 October 2019

Travers retains strong drive after a month to remember

Mark Travers. Photo: Sportsfile
Mark Travers. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The golfing enthusiasts in the Ireland squad are set for an outing tomorrow, and Mark Travers is hoping that his pedigree in the sphere has slipped under the radar.

It's getting harder for the Bournemouth player to keep a low profile, however, after his sudden graduation to Premier League level

The exposure of showdowns with Tottenham and Crystal Palace have boosted the Maynooth man's status.

His golfing prowess has been documented on these pages, with Travers facing a crossroads in his youth as he was tempted by life on the fairways. Playing off four as a Carton House member, he was in the representative mix and tasted Munster Boys success as a 13-year-old. A number of his old colleagues are playing in the US on scholarships now.

"I was probably going to play golf instead of football until U-16 level," he explains. "My dad took me everywhere around the country. It helped me with my football career, getting that experience in front of people even though it was a different sport.

"I knew it was a tough sport to go down mentally, just to be by yourself all day and a lot of hours practising. In the end, I thought football was the better decision."

He agrees there are some parallels when it comes to the challenges faced by a goalkeeper.

"The psychology is quite similar as it can be quite lonely," Travers continues. "You have to put mistakes behind you and not be afraid of anything."

He's had quite the month. The Spurs debut was a dream, with a clean sheet and man-of-the-match performance adding to the magic. Crystal Palace knocked five past him the following week in a crazy end-of-season fixture, and he probably learned more from that.

Read more: This is an experience that money can't buy - Connell

Eddie Howe gave him 24 hours' notice ahead of the Spurs game so he could allow his family to make it across. At full-time, he picked up a phone that was on the brink of explosion.

"I remember checking my family group chat and friends' group chat first. I just sent a little selfie saying 'What happened?'. They were all buzzing," he recalls.

Encouraging words from Hugo Lloris and a slot on 'Match of the Day' capped a day to remember.

It's given him a taste for more, with Irish goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly of the belief that Travers can go all the way once he builds his experience. With Bournemouth looking at established netminders, a loan move may be the way forward.

But he wants to see where pre-season takes him first. Promotion to third choice was a buzz last summer. It won't satisfy him now.

He's always known that a strong drive can take you a long way.

Irish Independent

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