Irish Youngster Reveals Just How Much Of A Hero Paul McGrath Still Is At Villa Park

Irish Youngster Reveals Just How Much Of A Hero Paul McGrath Still Is At Villa Park

Last month, Kevin Toner made his Aston Villa debut, coming on as a sub in a 4-2 defeat to Southampton.

The 19-year-old from Ashbourne - who could become the first Meathman to ever play for Ireland at senior level - has since gone on to start games against Watford and Newcastle.

Toner is a tough-tackling centre-back, something we saw a demonstration of when he ignited a melee during a Villa U21 game four weeks ago.

Toner has represented Ireland at U19 level. One of his idols is another Irish centre-back who also played for Aston Villa - Paul McGrath.

McGrath turned up at Villa training recently and according to Toner, the 56-year-old is still a hero to many at the club.

He told the Aston Villa website:


When we were out training he came over to see Gordon Cowans.

All the boys were tapping each other saying 'look, it's Paul McGrath'.

It might not have meant as much to some of the other boys but as an Irishman it was a massive thing for me.

He's a total hero in Ireland. I was definitely star struck.

It was great to see him. I was getting messages from people back home that evening, saying: 'Did you get to speak to him?'

He was a quality player and someone who commands total respect in the game.

This summer, Toner will be in France, though not as part of Martin O'Neill's Euro 2016 squad. Instead, he will be there as a fan.

I've got my flights booked and everything.

I used to follow Ireland all the time when I was younger so I'm going to the Euros with all the people that I used to go with.

We used to go to all the away international matches. I can't wait for it.

I read in the papers that there are 28,000 tickets and 280,000 people applied.

For such a small country with only five or six million people that's amazing.

Hopefully one day it will be me representing Ireland. It is 100% my aim to eventually earn a call-up.

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PJ Browne
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