Following the announcement of the Team Ireland U20s squad to play this Saturday, we are proud of our 6 Cowboys who have made the squad and will take on the USA AFW Elite Team at the National Sports Campus, Dublin. Kick off is scheduled for 1pm. We caught up with Gavin McConnell, who came through the Cowboys Juniors system and now competes for our seniors:
You have been around the Cowboys for a number of years, learnt the sport, and captained the Cowboys Junior sides before making your long awaited debut in Senior Kitted football last season. How good was it to finally put on that lid and play for Cowboys Seniors?
“It was something I’ll remember for the rest of my life, being involved with the club for a long time it was all I had wanted to do from the age of 14, I was nervous, excited and proud.”
You captained the Junior Team and had a big role to play in Junior Football in Ireland, how big a role does Junior Football play?
“I joined the club the club in 2012 and junior football basically didn't exist back then but seeing how far along it has come is unbelievable, it gives teams a constant rotation of the next generation of football players that will be dominating the league in years to come, I just hope to see more junior teams start up all around Ireland.”
You have played a number of different positions for the Cowboys - Linebacker, DB, Full Back and Slot Receiver. What do you think is your best position or does your versatility set you apart from other players?
“I'm really not sure, I just like to be as involved as much as I possibly can so for me the best position is the one that has me on the field the most, although if I was 6 inches taller I'd be the best receiver in Europe (dream on), but I'd love to get more action at fullback just because I love hitting guys who are supposed to be hitting you.”
What makes being part of the Cowboys Family so special?
“I’ve never been involved with a more welcoming group of lads in my entire life, they aren't just people I play football with they are my extended family, no matter what's going happening in your life on or off the pitch they are always there to pick you up and have a bit of craic with you, I really can’t imagine having another team like the Cowboys.”
On to Team Ireland Under 20s, how does it feel knowing you have been selected in a squad for the best young players in Ireland?
“I have missed a lot of the training sessions because I moved over to Liverpool for a while in 2016 so I haven't been as involved as much as I would have liked to have been with the squad but it's an amazing feeling to get that recognition from some of the top coaches in Ireland, I've always considered myself to be a hard worker on the field so it nice to know that other people can see that.”
You guys go up against a visiting team from USA, how tough will that be and what do you hope to gain from it?
“We will be competing against some really good football players who have probably been playing since they learned how to run but for me it doesn't matter if I'm playing the Carrickfergus Knights or the Green Bay Packers I’ll give every team respect and go out and try to play like I know I can and do my job regardless of who is in front of me, I just really want to use this experience to see what level I'm really at and to see how I can take the next step and continue to improve my playing ability.”