One of the surprises of the season so far in the Championship is the rise of Crystal Palace – currently fifth – and hoping to remain in a “play off” position (at least) come season’s end.
Since new owners took over just as the club was about to go under less than two years ago, there has been a steady change in the club’s fortunes. They have a highly talented youth academy side which has allowed such as Wilfred Zaha, Jonny Williams, Nathaniel Clyne and Sean Scannell to prosper yet have one of the newest recruits to football management ( albeit a Palace legend as a player) in Dougie Freedman.
Palace have always encouraged local youth and have never been slow to give them an opportunity to shine. In truth the Club cannot afford to spend millions on overpriced players, and risk further financial problems. That said Freedman has always been keen to give young players an opportunity to show their paces.The current first team squad includes three Irish players who have contributed much in the past 18 months.
One of them, Paddy McCarthy, is club captain and has recently been talking to ‘The Croydon Advertiser’ about- not only the rise of the Palace ‘new guard’ but also his own dreams of International recognition by Giovanni Trapattoni .McCarthy, one of the stalwarts of the Palace through recent bad times as well as the club’s current good run believes that he can play his way into the Irish side if he continues to put in strong performances for the Eagles this season.
“Playing for Ireland is something I have been involved with since I was 14 years of age”, he said. “I played for every age group up to the age of 21 and I am a very proud Irishman. I watched the Armenia game and I would love to be involved with the team again one day”
The 28 yrs old Dubliner added : “It is only natural to want to represent your country and play International football”. “I think I’ve got more chance if I’m playing well in a successful side and the team is doing well” “We’ve got a few internationals around the place now and that is also good for the club”.
Also at the Palace are Irish u-21 player Sean Scannell showing some of the best form of his career this year and Owen Garvan, the former U-21 captain who joined Palace from Ipswich last season. But does not the 28 years young McCarthy feel old compared with so many of the young guys now in the first team ?
“I’m 28 but feel like an old man surrounded by all these kids,” he laughed.
“It’s fantastic for the football club that we can keep producing these young talents through the academy and the boys know that if they are good enough they will get their chance in the first team. You can see how hungry they are and they want to be part of the first team” And his own future at the Palace?
He told ‘The Advertiser’ :-
“Honestly I’ve never enjoyed my football as much as I am at the moment. I’m literally going to training with a smile on my face and I feel fitter than I ever have,” he said. “Make no mistake about it I’m here for the long haul. I like everyone at the club fantastically, the players, staff and supporters. 100 per cent I believe in this team and think we are growing stronger as a club.
“I’ve no reason to want to move on again. I’ve played 100 games for the club and I’d like to play a couple of hundred more games here too. I see no reason why I can’t do that and hopefully I can be part of something as the club moves forward.”
And equally clearly unlike some of those who cannot decide whether to play for Ireland or not, even when in the squad, McCarthy would dearly love to play be part of future Irish squads. Indeed he like Garvan and Scannell will be hoping to attract the attention of Irish international scouts as the season progresses.