Sixteen year old Jeff McGowan from Newmarket-on-Fergus is about to start living the dream as he prepares to move to England permanently joining Barnsley Football Club on a two year contract.
Jeff is currently lining out with the English club’s U16 team and has made four appearances to date, hitting the back of the net on three occasions. From July 1st, Jeff will be based in Barnsley full-time as a member of their Youths outfit.
Prior to making the move to Barnsley, McGowan was heavily involved with various teams at Limerick FC and he is full of praise for The Super Blues. “I gained a lot of experience from playing with Limerick, playing with better older players definitely helped me improve and Tommy Barrett is a very good manager and taught me a lot”.
Initially the student at St Caimins Community School in Shannon was spotted while doing an extended trial with Bradford City and his displays aroused the interests of the Barnsley scouts and they were quick to snap up the silky striker.
Speaking exclusively to The Clare Herald, Jeff outlines his aims for his time in England. “My aims are to get regular game time with the youths and in the future hopefully break into the first team”. Jeff is operating as a striker with the South Yorkshire club and from the get-go he has laid down a marker by notching a goal in his debut versus Coventry City.
Moving away from home will be difficult for the talented teenager but as he surmises himself it is a necessary sacrifice. “I’m going to miss everything in Ireland; my family, my house, my friends, everything but it’s something I have to do if I was to reach my goal but definitely I will miss Ireland”.
A big transition is evident in the standard in England compared to what he has been accustomed to in Ireland according to Jeff “There is definitely a big change in standard, the game is quicker and fitness wise you have to be a lot fitter in the UK”.
For Jeff this move has always been a dream of his and now that he has the opportunity he is intent on taking it. “It’s my dream to play in England and hopefully make it professional. It’s something I’ve always wanted even from a young age and I’m very happy to have this chance”.
It will be a big change for McGowan as he must get used to training for the five days of the week from 10:00-13:00 at a high intensity with a match each Saturday. The upcoming challenge excites him and he is confident to meet it head on “it’s my dream to play in England and there will be challenges but it won’t stop me from trying to reach my goal as a professional footballer”.
Football is his love and breaking into the Barnsley first team is his main goal but crucially he highlights the fact that it is all made easier through the enjoyment of the sport. “My goal for now is to get into the first team in the future and I want to play at the highest level possible but it’s what I love doing and I enjoy it”.
Making the breakthrough in England will be far from easy but even talking to Jeff it’s easy to see his determination and that will be of major benefit to him. He was also a promising hurler with Newmarket-on-Fergus and the experience McGowan has from his hurling days will be an aid during his career. Key aspects of Jeff’s game are his speed, stamina and skill which are second to none.
Very few Irish players successfully make it at an English football club, but there is this unique hunger and determination with Jeff and add in the aforementioned characteristics of his play and there is nothing to suggest why he cannot join the list of Irish soccer players who have achieved across the water.