People are talking about Callum O’Dowda. At 22 he’s just about matured as a player and is hitting the kind of form that gets players noticed. Having taken the step up from his hometown club of Oxford United to Championship side Bristol City, his pace, control and outright skill on the left wing have started claiming attention.
Callum is eligible to play for Ireland through his Dundalk born grandfather. O’Dowda was first called up to the U21s in March 2015. Earning his debut on the 26th of that month. He scored 3 goals in 11 games for the U21 side. It wasn’t long before he earned a call up from Martin O’Neill to the Senior side in May 2016. He made his debut on the 31st. In the end, O’Neill decided not to bring the youngster to Euro 2016. But he has called on the winger since. O’Dowda is seen by many as a possible long term solution to Ireland’s attacking midfielder quandary.
“After the Belarus game, after he named the squad, he said he’d see if there was any way he could take me to France. obviously I wasn’t in the 23, but if someone picked up a knock, I think I was the 24th man to get in the squad. I stayed to get an extra week’s training with the squad and make me feel part of things. I was dying to get on the plane, but at the same time you have to realise how far you’ve come.”
Fans first started noticing the left sided attacking midfielder when he scored an impressive 10 goals for Oxford City during his final season with the club. Despite the demands of a burgeoning International Career and a number of unfortunate injuries, his performances proved a key factor in gaining Oxford United promotion to League One. As a player, he needed to make the step up. When Bristol City came calling he jumped at the chance to play for a Championship side.
So far he’s appeared 34 times for Bristol City, having established himself as a regular starter right away, but had yet to show any of his scoring ability.
“I’ve been assisting quite a lot but not scored. We want to achieve promotion, which is a big thing for Bristol City. Even at the start of the season, the gaffer said we could have a right go at it this year. We started well enough; we’re in the top half of the table, a few points off the play-offs.”
Unfortunately, sitting in 17th place at time of writing, the play-offs haven’t come to pass for Bristol City. Nevertheless, the midfielder’s appearances are coming more often for Ireland now, 4 in all. No doubt this will continue to grow as the Oxford born man continues his ascent.
Do you think Callum O’Dowda will play a big part in the future of the Irish game?
Header image: rte.ie