Barry McNamee insists he is ‘honoured’ to be named the sole League of Ireland representative in the Republic of Ireland U21 squad which begins its Euro 2015 Championship qualification campaign this month.
The 21 year-old Ramelton lad retains his place in Noel King’s squad for the Republic’s opening Group Six game against Faroe Islands in Toftir on Wednesday, August 14th.
The Derry City midfielder won his first international cap last May in a friendly fixture against Denmark as a second half substitute.
Cork City’s Daryl Horgan was the only other League of Ireland player to feature in that squad but this time McNamee will fly the flag alone!
It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for the Co. Donegal native which has brought about an FAI Cup winners’ medal, a trial at Nottingham Forest, a European football debut and now international recognition.
McNamee is the latest in a long line of Derry City youngsters, which includes Patrick and Shane McEleney, David McDaid, Ryan Curran and Michael Duffy, to have received international call-ups in recent years.
It’s a clear sign that Derry City’s devotion to youth policy is reaping its rewards but McNamee believes the League of Ireland should get greater recognition at the top level.
“Declan Devine and Paul Hegarty are, like Stephen Kenny before them, showing great faith in the youth system at Derry,” said McNamee. “And that’s all down the coaching from John Quigg, Eddie Seydak and Hugh Harkin.
“It’s not a coincidence that all these players are breaking through. The League of Ireland is over-flowing with young talent, so to be chosen as the only League of Ireland player is an honour for me.
“But really the league isn’t getting the recognition it deserves. There should be three or four players from the Premier Division in the squad as well but players at professional clubs in England are in the Ireland squad the whole way through the age groups and they’re the ones being selected.”
McNamee has clearly benefitted from Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick’s elevation to the Republic senior squad and he’s hoping to do enough to maintain his place for the duration of the qualifying campaign.
“It’s about making a good impression whenever you get a chance and obviously I’ve taken my chance and we’ll see how it goes from there.”
However, McNamee won’t allow his thoughts to drift past tonight’s crunch clash against Sligo Rovers at Brandywell - a game he believes could have a significant bearing on the destination of the Premier Division trophy this season.
““Before the two European games we lost at home to Dundalk and away to Shamrock Rovers so it was vitally important we got back on track down in Limerick.
“We got the win and that’s all that matters at this stage of the season. When Sligo come to the Brandywell it’s all about putting down a marker and it’s up to us to go and deliver.”