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'I knew it was time to grow up' - Ireland U21 midfielder aiming to kick on for club and country

Bournemouth’s Gavin Kilkenny is loving life as part of Stephen Kenny’s squad.

GAVIN KILKENNY HAS reaped the rewards of years of hard work over recent months — but he knows it’s only the start. 

The Dubliner was handed a chance to impress by Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe when faced French side Lyon in a pre-season friendly in August.

And he did just that with a performance that earned him the man-of-the-match award and praise from his manager

A graduate of St Kevin’s Boys, Kilkenny has made two competitive appearances for the Cherries in Carabao Cup games since then, but he is hungry for more minutes. 

afc-bournemouth-v-forest-green-rovers-carabao-cup-second-round-vitality-stadium In action for Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup earlier this season. Source: John Walton

“I’m 19 now so I wanted to get closer to the first team and I knew it was time to grow up,” Kilkenny told FAI TV. “I wanted to knuckle down so I pushed on, got a bit luck and it has paid off.

It’s great really as the club have really backed me and given me the opportunity to impress in pre-season and in the cup as well.

“I’ve made a lot of progress but I’ve not changed too much of what I do anyways. I’m just really enjoying my football at the moment and being part of this squad.”

Progress at club level saw him called up to the Ireland U21s, where he made his debut in September’s win over Armenia at Tallaght Stadium, despite stiff competition in the talented squad. 

Three wins and last week’s hard-fought draw at home to Italy has left the Boys in Green sitting top of Group 1 ahead of today’s Euro qualifier away to Iceland (4pm Irish time). 

“I had heard good things [about Stephen Kenny] before I came in and he has lived up to that,” the teenager said of his international manager.

“He has been great and he has us playing some really nice, positive football. He wants to go to places like Iceland and Sweden and he doesn’t want to settle for a draw. He wants to win, but not just that, he wants to outplay them as well.”

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imago-20190910 Gavin Kilkenny (left) with Sweden's Nils Fröling and Ireland U21 captain Jayson Molumby. Source: Imago/PA Images

Iceland began the campaign in some style — beating Luxembourg 3-0 and Armenia 6-1 — before they were on the end of a heavy 5-0 defeat by the Swedes over the weekend. 

“It’s going to be a difficult match, they’re very physical but it is a great opportunity for us and we want to keep the run going,” Kilkenny added.

We’ve built up a lot of momentum during the campaign and the lads really look forward to every match. It’s a great group to be a part of and I’m loving every minute of it.

“It’s a really close group and I only just came into the squad in September and it’s been great. We’re really determined to keep it going as we thought we should have won against Italy on Thursday.”

Source: FAI TV/YouTube

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