Dundee United defender Mark Connolly hopes Premiership football boosts his chances of pulling on the green of Ireland once more.
Connolly has represented his country through the age group levels, winning seven U/21 caps but has never made a full international bow.
With top-flight football at United just around the corner, he is hoping Irish gaffer Stephen Kenny has more opportunities to sit up and takes notice of his performances next season.
The 28-year-old centre-back, from Clones, admits it would be ‘huge’ for him to win his first cap and is relishing the chance to prove himself at the highest level.
“I have always had the ambition to play for my country, 100%,” the former Crawley Town and Kilmarnock man said.
“Playing down in England can be difficult and some boys will concede that but when you play up in Scotland in the Premiership you have that aim.
“The world watches you and the Scottish leagues are very good, especially the Premiership.
“I played there with Kilmarnock and I really enjoyed it, although I had a few injuries in that spell.
“If I got the chance to break back into the international scene at full level it would be huge for me.”
However, Connolly insists his initial focus is on performing well for the Tangerines in the Premiership when the new term kicks off next month.
The Terrors will play their first top-tier fixture in four years on August 1 when St Johnstone come to Tannadice for the Tayside derby.
With that match just over two weeks away, Connolly is greatly anticipating the challenge ahead for the club.
He continued: “Playing back in the Premiership will also be big for me!
“I came back up to Dundee United because I knew that was the aim and to get there now is magnificent.
“There is no reason why I can’t aim for that (Ireland) but the first aim is to help United establish themselves back into the Premiership.
“Whatever happens after that happens.”
Of his international ambitions, Connolly revealed some household names he grew up with on the Irish scene and admits they are men he’d love to line up alongside again.
“I played all the way from U/15 to the U/21s,” he added.
“I played with the likes of Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Shane Duffy, Enda Stevens, Matt Docherty, James McCarthy and Greg Cunningham.
“It is the majority of the full squad.
“It is one of those things you want to get back playing there and, hopefully, getting back to the Premiership and I can do well then you never know what could happen.
“It is something I would love to happen in the future.”
The Terrors have a proud recent history of Irishmen pulling on tangerine and Connolly says it’s an honour to join the likes of legends Sean Dillon and Jon Daly in representing the club.
“Sean Dillon, Jon Daly, Noel Hunt and Willo Flood have all played,” he commented.
“Dundee United is a great club with a great history and I am sure that when we come back to the Premiership that we will attract even more international players in the future.
“United is a huge club in Scotland and I speak for all the players we are all proud to pull on the jersey.”