Mark Travers – the cherry atop AFC Bournemouth’s cake

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Irish-born goalkeeper, Mark Travers made his debut for AFC Bournemouth against Tottenham Hotspur on the penultimate weekend of the Premier League season and what a debut it was. Without his polished performance, it is unlikely that Bournemouth would have won the game against their illustrious opponents, now bound for the Champions League final.

Travers, who is only 19-years-of-age, began his football career playing for schoolboy outfit Cherry Orchard FC in Dublin. From there, he joined the youth squad at Shamrock Rovers in July 2015 and played in the SSE Airtricity U-17 league where he picked up an All-Ireland title.

A year later, after a short trial, he was signed-up by Bournemouth at the age of 17. He began his cross-channel career with their U-21s before graduating into the first team squad under the watchful guidance of goalkeeping coach, Neil Moss.

Travers was then put out on loan to UK Southern Premier League side, Weymouth during the 2017/2018 season. It was during a league match against Bishop’s Stortford that the young goalkeeper scored the winning goal from a free kick. He lobbed the opposing keeper from 75 yards out.

It just so happened that this was his debut game for Weymouth. Travers spotted the goalkeeper wandering around on the edge of this penalty area and had a go. It paid off but little did we know en even better debut was in the offing.

Earlier this year, the young Irishman was summoned by Mick McCarthy to join the Ireland squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers. With his reputation now growing at a rate of knots, he is likely to figure in an starting Irish eleven in the near future.

The game against Spurs was to be Travers’ Premier League debut, and like his first outing for Weymouth, it turned out to be a remarkable one. Travers made a string of excellent saves from Tottenham’s Dele Ali, and strikers Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min.

Son was, of course, red-carded just before half time for a very uncharacteristic loss of temper when he pushed Bournemouth’s Jefferson Lerma to the floor after he had been struck in the back. Son has been a key player for Spurs this season, especially in recent weeks with Harry Kane being injured.

He was missed by Tottenham when he was called up to play for South Korea in the Asian Cup. As Chris Waddle said in a recent interview with Sportingbet, the Asian Cup should have been rescheduled like the African Cup of Nations was, so it fell outside of the UK domestic season domain. Luckily for Spurs, he didn’t get injured although he did return a very tired looking player.

But if Spurs landed themselves in trouble, Bournemouth celebrated their first-ever win against the North Londoners thanks to not only a 95th-minute goal from Nathan Ake, but a show of top-class goalkeeping from Maynooth, County Kildare-born Mark Travers. A name we are sure to hear more of in years to come.

 

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