With Tuesday marking National Best Friend Day, we shine a light on Mark Travers and Gavin Kilkenny, two countrymen striking up a bond away from home as they made strides through the Academy and into the first-team set-up together.
The two Dubliners - though, as Kilkenny would jokingly say of Maynooth native Travers, “He’s not from Dublin!” – chose to share a house during their formative years at the club, with the ‘keeper’s healthy habits rubbing off on his compatriot, eight months his junior.
The pair joined the Cherries in their teens just a matter of months apart in the summer of 2016 and, despite being in different age groups and not initially playing together, they soon became close friends and later housemates.
Travers picks up the story: “Gav came in the September, I joined in June. in the first year he was a scholar and I was with the under-21s so we didn’t see that much of each other. It wasn’t until about a year-and-a-half in that we struck up that good relationship together.
“We then decided to move in together, which was a great decision because we had great laughs in digs.
“We get on really well off the pitch and it’s always nice to have that fellow Irishman to connect with and talk about the stuff going on at home.
“He’s a great friend of mine and I think that will continue.”
Kilkenny followed in the footsteps of Travers when making his league debut for the Cherries in December last year and has credited his friend with having a positive effect on him, especially when it came to nutrition.
“Travs has been a great influence,” said Kilkenny. “He is very professional and does all the right things.
“When I first came here, I was a typical kid, eating chocolate and sweets. Travs kicked me into shape and got me drinking green tea and eating avocado.
“When he made his debut against Spurs, I was sitting in the stand making every save with him. He works so hard and it has rubbed off on me.
“I need to keep training well, keep trying to impress and see where it takes me.”
Travers spoke further about journeying to England and getting used to being far away from his family – while making new friends within the Cherries set-up.
“It was definitely tough! My family tried to come over as regularly as they could but it’s not easy with hotel bills and things like that,” he explained.
“They were great, calling me on the phone every night but I was just so happy to be at a Premier League club and focused on trying to do something in the game of football.
“I built up great relationships straight away with all the goalkeepers: Pat O’Flaherty, Cal Stanton, Jordan Holmes, Will Dennis and then Rammers (Aaron Ramsdale) came in later.
“We were a tightknit group and there were a lot of us younger ‘keepers in my first year here, and great competition.
“There were tough moments for me, sometimes I’d want to jump back on the plane with my family when they were going home at the end of a weekend, but I knew I had to be focused on my football, that’s always helped.”