Richie Towell signed for Dundalk FC in 2012 after being released by Celtic, and the 24 year old midfielder has gone from strength to strength since.
He was an instant success at Dundalk, and picked up an array of awards for the club in 2013, winning Dundalk FC Player of the Year, Dundalk FC Young Player of the Year, Dundalk Travel Club Away Player of the Year trophy.
Towell also won the PFAI Young Player of the Year, and won a place in the PFAI’s Premier Division Team of the Year that same season.
Towell has been instrumental to Dundalk’s double-winning season. He scored 29 goals in all competitions this season, and he capped off a wonderful season by scoring the winner for Dundalk in the FAI Cup final against Cork City on Sunday.
Towell expressed his desire to play for Ireland in May, stating that;
“I had the honour of playing from U-15 to U-21 level and it was great privilege for me and the family and the next step would obviously be full senior international.”
“There’s nobody from the League of Ireland in the Republic of Ireland squad and it’s disappointing because you look at the amount of people that are [in the squad] that have played in [the League of Ireland], the likes of Seamus Coleman and players like that.”
Towell also acknowledged how difficult it is for League of Ireland players to gain international recognition, and admitted that a move overseas might be the only way to force his way into Martin O’Neill’s plans.
It seems that a move across the water is imminent, and Towell has drawn plenty of admirers in the England. League 2 side Bristol Rovers have confirmed their interest in the creative midfielder.
Bristol manager Darrell Clarke said that;
“Richie has a good pedigree and is the sort of player who might fit the mould we are looking for. We have heard some good things about him, but we want to have a look for ourselves and that is probably the next step in the process.”
Championship side Brighton have also been accredited with an interest in Towell. A move to England would surely aid Towell’s dream of representing Ireland at senior level.
There have been tentative calls from fans to give Towell a chance in international friendlies.
The real question is, does Towell deserve international recognition?
The LOI is not the strongest league in Europe, but to score 29 goals from midfield i in any league is impressive. Richie Towell has consistently shown the creative flair and intelligence that fans and pundits have been demanding more of from the Ireland team.
Wes Hoolahan is 33, and Ireland are sorely in need of more creative players like him.
Towell is an exciting midfielder, and a player who makes things happen. He would give the national team more creativity and attacking potency. He could be a player to come off the bench and make things happen late in a game. At 24, his best years are ahead of him.
If you look to the German league, the top German performers are in the German squad. The same can be said for the English league, the Spanish league, the Italian league, and so on.
This isn’t the case in Ireland. Steve Staunton was the last Irish manager to call on the services of a League of Ireland player. And how can we improve it if the top LOI performers aren’t recognized for their talent?
It is hard to conceive that Richie Towell wouldn’t have an Ireland cap by now if he was plying his trade in England. If Towell continues to be ignored, what hope is there for other LOI players? What motivation is there for players like Towell to remain in Ireland?
If Towell was to be capped for Ireland in a friendly, and given the opportunity to stake his claim, it would not only be deserved recognition of his glittering form, but it would also serve as a great example to other players in the league.
In my opinion, the best player in Ireland deserves a chance to compete for a place in the national squad. Only time will tell if Martin O’Neill feels the same.
by David Smith