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Jamie McGrath: “If you said that I would be here a year ago, I would have thought it was too soon”

Jamie McGrath Ireland Qatar

Jamie McGrath is making the step-up to international football with ease.

Ireland international Jamie McGrath continued his remarkable rise on Tuesday night with a superb performance against Qatar.

McGrath is one of many in the current senior Irish set-up that has come through the League of Ireland, although his path has differed somewhat.

The Co. Meath man, rather than pursue a career in football once he finished school, went down the third-level route where he combined his studies with League of Ireland football with St Patrick’s Athletic, before earning himself a move to Dundalk in 2018.

Jamie McGrath on form for Ireland v Qatar.

Since making his international debut for Ireland away to Andorra in June, the unassuming, yet lively attacking midfielder has improved with every game he has played in.

While he may have always been a future Irish international, even McGrath admits that his recent appearances in Stephen Kenny’s squad have come quicker than he anticipated.

“It has always been a long-term goal of mine, and I just have to keep working hard,” he said on his recent international performances. “I’m doing that at club level and seeing where that would take me.

“If you told me I would be here at the start of the year I would have laughed but I always had a determination to go as far as I can. It’s gone well so far this year and I will keep continuing and working hard.”

McGrath making the step up from League of Ireland football.

Under Stephen Kenny, Ireland have shown little sign of caring what level their players are playing at, as seen with the aforementioned McGrath.

McGrath, 25, from Athboy, Co. Meath, has come the long way round to reach the heights of international football – and he is showing little sign of slowing down in his pursuit of reaching the next level.

“It has been the talk for a number of years now, especially at League of Ireland level with players making the step up,” he said. “Jack Byrne has proved that and a few others have been quite unlucky.

“I don’t think Stephen cares who you play for once you are doing well, he will give you a chance. It was a long-term dream, and I probably didn’t expect it to happen as quick.

“I got the nod in the summer and I was over the moon with it. My aim was to then stay in the squad and lucky enough I did that. If you said that I would be here a year ago, I would have thought it was too soon but I was always determined to go as far as I can. Thankfully it has happened sooner than I expected.”

Jamie McGrath’s hard work paying off.

Since emerging from the Covid-19 enforced shutdown on football, McGrath has established himself as one of the most highly-rated prospects in Scotland.

His rise continues at a time when interest in his services increase, with his contract at St Mirren set to expire at the end of the season. He does, however, admit that he happy with his club side.

“I worked hard during the first lockdown last year and I came home for three months, and I worked my socks off tirelessly so its nice to get the rewards,” he adds.

“Hopefully this will be the start and I won’t lose my place in the squad. Obviously you need a bit of luck with that with injuries but fingers crossed.

jamie mcgrath ireland qatar

“It proves that a few months in a player’s career can change it all really if you get a bit of form and luck. I would have played against him three years ago and it is great to share that journey with him. We get on very well together.

“I’m happy where I am. I have a year left on my contract and it’s not up until next summer so we’ll see what happens. I love it at St Mirren, they’re a great bunch and the gaffer is great. I can’t speak highly enough of it.”

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