Last week marked a historic moment for Saints' midfielder Ryan Coombes as he notched his first goal at international level for his country as the Ireland Under 19's advanced through the qualification tournament in Luxembourg to qualify for the Uefa 2013 Under 19 European Championships.
Coombes saw action in Ireland's opening game as a second half substitute in their 5-2 win over Luxembourg, and memorably in the final group game against Germany, notched Ireland's equaliser in a 2-2 draw after coming in the 58th minute for Millwall's Conor Wilkinson .
Coombes' success with Ireland is the latest in what has been a year of achievements having joined the club following spells with Cherry Orchard and Bray Wanderers.
The 18 year old made his full debut for the Saints in the 3-0 defeat to Shamrock Rovers in the Leinster Senior Cup, while he has gone on to make a further seven appearances in the first team. Having made the breakthrough into the first team at Pats this year, Coombes admitted he thoroughly enjoyed the recent experience with Ireland.
“Yeah it was brilliant and the aim now is to make the squad next summer for the European Championships,” he told stpatsfc.com.
“There's a few friendlies coming up in January and February, so if I can get into the squad for them and then make it into the squad for the summer, it would be great for me. The rest of the lads playing in England are playing at a decent standard, but I think I've played more senior football here than the others so that helped me.”
But what of the equaliser against Germany? When pressed to describe the goal, Coombes chose to play down the situation when describing his goal, commenting that the idea to “keep it simple” worked for him on this occasion after he scored following a flick on by Aston Villa striker Michael Drennan.
“I was disappointed not to get more minutes on the pitch, but when I got my chance against Germany in the third game, I just went out to try and take it with both hands, and lucky I did by getting the goal. I knew Mikey (Drennan) was going to win a header, so I just took a chance off it. It kindly fell to me on the half-volley, so I just put it in the top corner.”
However while the Saints' midfielder was experiencing good times with the Irish set-up over the two week spell with Paul Doolin's squad, the Saints were competing in both the league and FAI Cup.
The teenager admitted to being particularly frustrated at being away for the FAI Cup semi-final against Dundalk.
“I was flying out the day of the game, so when we were actually just in the air when kick-off in Dundalk was about to start.
“My nerves were gone when I was on the plane, but when I landed I heard we were 3-0 up so it was a great relief to hear. Hopefully now I can get a game or two under my belt before the final and give the manager something to think about for the final.”
Coombes is just the latest Pats player to have played at international level, with Eoin Hyland and Jamie Glynn also having played in recent times.
The international caps earned by players at the club promotes the philosophy of Saints' manager Liam Buckley to give chances to young players to play for the club, as has been seen with league appearances by Coombes and Gavin Boyne this season.
|11||St. Patrick's Athletic||10||8|
|12||Galway United FC||9||5|