Travers comes of age
Maynooth youngster repels Spurs on his dream debut
New 'keeper on the block Mark Travers was the story of the Irish weekend after a hugely impressive display in his surprise Premier League debut for Bournemouth.
While Mick McCarthy's first choice Darren Randolph is condemned to another year in the Championship after Middlesbrough missed out on the play-offs, Travers got the chance to sample the highest level.
The experience couldn't have gone any better for the 19-year-old from Maynooth who made a number of fine first-half stops to deny Tottenham in what turned out to be a 1-0 victory for his side.
He was awarded man of the match, after becoming the first teenage stopper to figure in the Premier League since Joe Hart lined out for Manchester City in 2006.
Travers came through the ranks at Lucan United before spending a year with Cherry Orchard and another year with Shamrock Rovers prior to his move to England.
In March, he was brought into Mick McCarthy's first squad as cover for Randolph and Keiren Westwood and spoke of how his love for goalkeeping started when he was diving around the green on his estate.
He got to do it on a bigger stage on Saturday, and was congratulated afterwards by his opposite number Hugo Lloris.
"I felt comfortable out there," said Travers, who was informed on Friday morning that he would get the nod. "It was an unbelievable day for me. I enjoyed every minute."
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe spoke of the great belief they have in Travers. His successful breakthrough could lead to bigger things with doubts surrounding the future of Artur Boruc and Asmir Begovic.
"He's got a great temperament, a great attitude. He played today like it was a training session and that's a huge compliment," said Howe.
"He has real confidence with his feet, kicked the ball well, obviously made the saves but his all-round game management was hugely impressive."
Travers' only previous first team experience had come on loan with Southern League side Weymouth where he actually scored a goal in his first match with a lob from distance.
He grew into Saturday's match after an early escape when a long-range Lucas Moura effort dipped on the wrong side of the post.
"It's unusual he hasn't been out on loan and experienced League Two or League One, or a League Cup game or anything. That was the risk we took," continued Howe. "But going on his training and how he's conducted himself all season and the club that we are, we have to give players the opportunity.
"The only way you are going to develop players is to play them. That's why we decided to do what we did."
Travers is likely to be drafted into the Ireland squad for the training camp in Portugal later this month.
Randolph will also be there too, although he would prefer to be absent due to play-off commitments.
However, Middlesbrough weren't able to force their way into the picture yesterday despite winning at Rotherham.
They needed Derby County to drop points at home to West Brom, but Frank Lampard's side secured a 3-1 win to set up an intriguing play-off semi-final with Leeds. Aston Villa and West Brom will meet in the other clash.
Richard Keogh recovered from a midweek injury to help his side do the business and set up another crack at promotion.
The season finished on a positive note for QPR duo Ryan Manning and Olamide Shodipo as they featured in a 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday.
Manning has taken well to a new left-back role although he was involved in controversy as he grabbed the ball after his side won a penalty but was forced to hand it over to Ebere Eze whose effort was kept out by Westwood after their disagreement.
Shodipo played 61 minutes in his first start of an injury-interrupted season. The Irish U-21 international was awarded a contract extension earlier this week.
Enda Stevens scored for the already promoted Sheffield United in their 2-2 draw at Stoke but they lost out on the Championship title to Norwich.
On Saturday, ex-Cork City man Kieran Sadlier scored for Doncaster as they crept into the League One play-offs but Graham Carey (Plymouth) and Liam Kinsella (Walsall) suffered relegation.
Pádraig Amond and Mark O'Brien's Newport County did enough to get into the League 2 play-offs, but there was disappointment for Michael Doyle and Jim O'Brien as Notts County fell out of the Football League.