Recently turned 18 years of age, Dylan Gavin has much to celebrate on his journey to being a successful professional footballer.
The Athlone native is currently on the books of English Division One club Charlton Athletic where he has been making steady progress. He is following in the footsteps of a number of fine footballers from the town who have travelled across the water in search of fame.
Dennis Clarke and Aidan McKenzie were early pioneers while most recently Alan Sheehan has carved out a great career with over 400 first team appearances to his name. In contrast, young Gavin is only embarking on a journey that hopefully will lead to much success in the coming years.
The Marist College was where Gavin learnt his trade and his sporting versatility saw him represent the school in a number of sports including gaelic football. Soccer though was where his heart lay and local teams St Francis and St Peters helped him on his way. It came as no surprise that the youngster was soon snapped up by Athlone Town, his finest moment arriving for the club’s under 15s when hot favourites St Patricks Athletic were beaten in the final of the national competition.
Managed by Dermot Lennon, the Town shocked the Saints with Gavin playing a starring role. Fellow team mates, Adam Lennon and Jack Reynolds, have since progressed to the first team but Gavin’s move was one into the unknown.
The potential was there and a call up to international duty showed that others thought so too. Gavin would have been one of many that aspired to make a career in the professional game. It would have been a difficult decision to make when the opportunity soon arose. Family and friends were being left behind when he travelled to London at a tender age to join Charlton. Facing some competition, the Addicks secured his signature and the bright city lights soon beckoned.
Gavin settled quickly and established himself as an exciting prospect. It can be hard to stand out among several other starlets and the training regime can be tough. The progress made to date though has been impressive and has easily exceeded expectations of all concerned.
Even before reaching eighteen, the youngster had represented the club at levels which were well above his age group. His coaches have spoken highly of his skills, attitude and dedication. All these traits and more are demanded in the professional game which can be cold and clinical for those looking in.
It is ruthless with success demanded at all levels but Gavin has made a good start. Many in Athlone have been following his career with interest and, if progress continues to be made, it will not be too long before he is getting involved on the fringes of the first team. Although playing with the under 18s, the opportunity has already arisen to step up when a substitute appearance was made against Leyton Orient in an FA Trophy cup tie last November.