Derry City No.1 Brian Maher 'privileged' to receive Ireland senior call-up for Euros training camp
The Derry City No.1 has been in outstanding form for the Candy Stripes this season and his recent performances have caught the eye of the Ireland boss once again.
Maher is one of just three League of Ireland players named in the 22 man squad to begin preparations for two qualifiers in June, including fellow keeper James Talbot (Bohemians) and Shamrock Rovers winger Neil Farrugia.
With his time with the Irish U21s now at an end, Maher was delighted to get recognition from the Ireland boss and he's excited to 'test’ himself.
"It's a real privilege to get named in these squads,” he said. “The manager told me last week and I just told my close family but I didn't realise it would be announced today," he said.
"I'm getting a lot of texts and messages from people wishing me luck which is nice.
"It's nice recognition and a chance to test myself and see where I'm at," he added. "It's nice to still be in the manager's mind and recognition that I'm playing well I suppose."
Maher is one of three goalkeepers named in the squad alongside Talbot and Bristol City's No.1 Max O'Leary. The coveted No. 1 spot in the senior side is one of the most fiercely contested positions with Southampton's Gavin Bazuna and Liverpool's Caoimhin Kelleher the leading lights.
The Raheny man is just delighted to be in amongst some top level names at present and he's hoping to soak up as much knowledge as he possibly can during the four day camp.
"There's really good goalkeeping options for Stephen so it's nice to be given a chance to show what I can do for a couple of days.
"I think I can take a lot from it. It's a step up again and I'll be surrounded by top players so, as I said, it's a chance to see where you're at in terms of playing levels."
The Dubliner has enjoyed a taste of senior international football already when he spent a day training with Kenny's side in March 2022 when working under senior goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely.
Ahead of the upcoming UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers in June, everyone in the squad will be hoping to make an impression at the Robins High Performance Centre.
Maher goes into the camp in top form having kept three clean sheets in his last three matches including a man of the match display and two world class saves against Drogheda at Weavers Park.
"I think I've done alright this year so far. Other than making that one mistake against Rovers which was highly talked about but I wasn't going to let that affect me. I feel I've had a good year so far but like the team, we still have levels to go."
While representing the Irish senior side would no doubt be the ultimate dream for the City stopper, he's not getting carried away with the call-up and is focusing on taking another opportunity to learn and enjoy a change of scenery.
"For the moment I'm just focussing on trying to play for Derry and go up the levels and work with good staff and players to help me do that. I wouldn’t think that far ahead but it's nice to be recognised,” he added.
Before he jets off with the Irish squad, he's got another important league clash with UCD at Brandywell on Friday night.
It's a chance to secure four straight wins and four consecutive clean sheets - the perfect response to that disappointing setback in the 2-0 loss to Shamrock Rovers at the start of the month.
"We were all very disappointed with the Rovers result but we've won five of the last six and kept four clean sheets in the last five.
"With key players coming back things are looking up. There was talk of a crisis by some people but we know we're a good side. “There was no real panic. We were trusting the process. We have a top manager and really good staff so there was no panic from us."
That 3-0 win against Dundalk on Monday appears to have put to bed any concerns about the home form but Maher knows they must replicate the same performance to ensure they get three points against bottom club UCD.
"A lot has been made of it (home form) and we knew we had to improve at home but we've now won two of our last three at Brandywell.
"The Rovers game was disappointing but teams will have those days. The games against Dundalk and Pat's were very encouraging."
There's no room for complacency as they chase the tails of Rovers and Maher certainly isn't taking the Students lightly.
"They've taken points off Bohs and Dundalk this year. They have very good players and if you're not at it they will turn you over. "You need to be at it against every team in this league. We're starting to put a bit of a run together with clean sheets so hopefully we keep that going."