Friday 22 September 2017

With Mourinho on side O'Hara keeps shifting his goalposts

Goalkeeping coach Emilio Alvarez and Manchester United's Kieran O'Hara. Photo: Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images
Goalkeeping coach Emilio Alvarez and Manchester United's Kieran O'Hara. Photo: Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

John Fallon

Irish players being part of top Premier League squads are rare these days but Kieran O'Hara intends sticking around Manchester United to chart his career.

It helps that Jose Mourinho has taken a shine to the 20-year-old goalkeeper, choosing him to provide back-up for David De Gea and Sergio Romero in the recent Europa League Cup tie against FC Rostov.

O'Hara spent both legs ensconced with the first-team and he absorbed everything possible from working under Mourinho and around De Gea.

The fact the Spaniard will likely return to one of the two giants in his homeland is one reason why O'Hara believes the openings could arise to facilitate his lifelong ambition of featuring for his boyhood idols.

The loan move of Sam Johnstone to Aston Villa in January and season-ending injury for another rival, Joel Pereira, illustrate that phase one of his ascent could only be temporary but the rookie is prepared for the long haul.

PUSHING

"I want to be the third-choice 'keeper this season but wouldn't rule out pushing for the No 1 spot," insisted the Stretford-born stopper, who is eligible for Ireland through his Galway-born grandparents.

"I know that would be difficult because Manchester United are a massive club but if I keep developing and the opportunity comes, then I don't see why not.

"After spending time on loan last season at Morecambe, United didn't want me going away again and instead I've learned a lot from being around the first team. Working under the manager Jose Mourinho has been brilliant."

This week, he links up with Ireland's U-21 squad for Saturday's opening UEFA qualifier against Kosovo. O'Hara was integrated into the set-up last year without being capped after manager Noel King noticed an Irish-looking name on Morecambe's team-sheet.

"Just seeing my name would have been a giveaway that I qualified for Ireland!" O'Hara noted.

Irish Independent

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