Owen signs extension to Town deal

IPSWICH midfield star Owen Garvan has signed a new deal to keep him at Portman Road for the next three years.It is great news for the club and the supporters - and ends weeks of negotiating between chairman David Sheepshanks and the player's representatives.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH midfield star Owen Garvan has signed a new deal to keep him at Portman Road for the next three years.

It is great news for the club and the supporters - and ends weeks of negotiating between chairman David Sheepshanks and the player's representatives.

Manager Joe Royle hailed the development when he said: “I couldn't be more delighted. Owen is one of the best young talents in the game.”

Garvan made his senior debut on the opening day of the season and made such outstanding progress that other clubs were quickly on his trail, with West Ham leading the chase.

But despite their well-documented financial woes Town insisted they had no intention of cashing in on their most prized asset.

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Garvan's new deal means Ipswich have secured the services of all their outstanding youngsters, with Scott Barron, Matt Richards and rising star Chris Casement all putting pen to paper on improved contracts in recent weeks.

Jason De Vos will be next to commit himself to a two-year extension, while Dutch full-back Fabian Wilnis is close to agreeing a 12-month deal.

But there is no doubt that clinching Garvan's signature on a long-term deal is seen as a major breakthrough after the enforced sale of young players in recent years.

Royle added: “Owen got his chance, took it and has very quickly made himself a permanent fixture in the side. He is getting better all the time.

“It is hard to believe he is only 18. He is mature beyond his years and I honestly believe it won't be long before he is featuring in the Republic of Ireland's senior squad.

“Owen is also deeply ambitious and while we are absolutely delighted to be keeping him here, it is also significant that he wants to stay with us.

“He is six-feet plus now, looking down on me, and athletic-wise he is improving all the time. He has a great future ahead of him.”

Garvan, who possesses a superb range of passing skills, also has the pedigree to go all the way to the top.

His father, Gerry, played League of Ireland football, but there is an even stronger football link on the side of his mother, Mary.

Her brother, Mick Martin, played for Manchester United and later Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion, for whom he was sent off against Ipswich in the 1978 FA Cup semi-final.

Midfielder Mick won 52 caps for the Republic of Ireland, while his and Mary's father - Owen's grandfather - is the legendary Con Martin.

Centre-half Con played for Aston Villa and scored one of his country's goals from the penalty spot in the famous 2-0 win at Goodison Park in 1949, which was England's first-ever defeat on home soil.

Remarkably, however, it was while he was with Glentoran in 1946 that he was first capped by what was then known as the Irish Free State.

In his first two internationals he played in goal, keeping a clean sheet on each occasion, and earning the record of being the only Irish international keeper in history to never have a goal scored against him.

He continued to play for Ireland until 1956, winning his 30th and final cap in a 4-1 away win over Holland.

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