BARRY MCNAMEE’S career took a major turn for the better when he was selected to start in the FAI Cup final last November in the Aviva Stadium for Derry City.
In fact, since then his name has remained on the sheet containing the Brandywell club’s first team and last week the 21-year-old took another significant step forward having been selected for international duty.
McNamee has also claimed the Soccer Writers’ of Ireland Player of the Month Award for April, and the chirpy Ramelton man with the distinctive hairstyle has been on a high this week.
Informed by manager, Declan Devine, before Wednesday’s training session that Noel King had called him up to join the Irish U-21’s trip to Denmark at the end of the month, McNamee received a major boost.
He then scored his fifth goal of the season for City, against Drogheda United on Friday night, and is in line to feature in the EA Sports clash with Finn Harps in Ballybofey tonight.
“I was delighted when Declan told me that I had been called up to travel to Denmark,”McNamee said.
“It’s my first call-up to international level and it really has been a great day for me having also won the Airtricity League’s Player of the Month award.”
“I knew about the Player of the Month Award, but the call-up to the U-21’s came as a shock. I had been involved in the home-based U-21 squad, but I must have been doing something right to get called up,” he laughed.
McNamee will travel to Denmark at the end of this month for what will be a friendly challenge before the U-21’s face the Faroe Island in a European Championship fixture in August.
He will be joined in the U-21 squad by Derry man and current Everton defender, Shane Duffy, whose dad Brian is from Letterkenny.
Goalkeeper Sean McDermott from Sandnes Ulf is bron in Norway but plays for Ireland because his father Brian is from Mountcharles.
Lettermacaward’s Carl McHugh, whose Bradford City side got promoted on Saturday via the League Two play-offs, is also in the squad, while Ciaran Gallagher, the Finn Harps goalkeeper, will train with the squad.
“Winning awards at this level is special and every player wants to aspire to international level and I’m no different, so I’m very happy with what has happened to me over the past few days,” McNamee added.
“I’m very happy to be in the Derry team most weeks. I try to put my head down and work really hard in training and now that I’m beginning to score a few goals, it’s been fantastic for me. My priority has always been to try and improve and I feel I’m doing that with the Derry first team. I think people are now beginning to notice me.”
Having learned of his player’s graduation to international level, manager Devine was thrilled for McNamee, suggesting that the call-up was merited.
He said: “Barry is a very bright young player who continues to work very hard at his game. He has shown a tremendous attitude and he continues to grow in terms of experience. He’s now started to add goals to his repertoire and he has always been influential in creating goal-scoring chances for others around him.
“It’s my view that if he keeps improving, then the sky is the limit for him. Barry is in the Derry City first team on merit and not only is he a creative player, he’s also versatile having played in a number of positions when called upon.”
The Republic of Ireland Under-21 squad to face Denmark in the Fredericia Stadium on Friday night, May 31 is - Aaron McCarey (Wolves), Sean McDermott (Sandnes Ulf), Shane Duffy (Everton), Anthony O’Connor (Blackburn Rvs), Matt Doherty (Wolves), Joe Shaughnessy (Aberdeen), Derrick Williams (Aston Villa), Sean McGinty (Unattached), Carl McHugh (Bradford City), Samir Carruthers (Aston Villa), John O’Sullivan (Blackburn Rvrs), Frankie Sutherland (QPR), Barry McNamee (Derry City), Sean Murray (Watford), Anthony Forde (Wolves), Aiden O’Brien (Millwall).