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Premier exit for Ireland keepers



LONG STINT: Kieran O’Hara spent 16 years at Manchester United

LONG STINT: Kieran O’Hara spent 16 years at Manchester United

LONG STINT: Kieran O’Hara spent 16 years at Manchester United

Ireland international goalkeepers Kieran O'Hara and Rob Elliot will have to drop down a division and revive their careers outside of the Premier League after they were both handed free transfers.

O'Hara's 16-year stint as a Manchester United player is at an end as the club yesterday included him on a list of nine players who are being let go.

And Newcastle United confirmed that Elliot (34) can also leave after an injury-scarred spell which saw him go for two and a half years without a first team appearance.

O'Hara grew up in Urmston, close to Old Trafford and joined the club as an eight-year-old.

After signing a new professional contract last year, he retained hopes of making the first-team squad with a chance to at least put pressure on established keepers like David de Gea.

"I wouldn't still be doing what I'm doing if I didn't believe in myself to play at the top level," he said last year.

"I've never shied away from that - that's the goal, I believe I can achieve it."

But the 24-year-old is no longer wanted there, released along with Aidan Barlow, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Alex Fojticek, Ethan Hamilton, Dion McGhee, Demetri Mitchell, Largie Ramazani and George Tanner.

"Manchester United would like to thank the departing players for their contributions during their time at the club and wish them the very best of luck for the future," the club said in a statement.

O'Hara had seven loan spells away from Old Trafford, most recently with Burton Albion, but he leaves United without making a first-team appearance.

In March, he was given a six-game ban for biting an opponent while in action for Burton,.

Eligible for Ireland through the parentage rule as his grandparents were from Galway, he was called up for the first time at U-21 level in 2016 and made his senior debut in last year's win over Bulgaria, adding a second cap against New Zealand two months later.

Elliot joined Newcastle from Charlton in 2011 and made 68 appearances during his nine-year spell at St James's Park.

First called up at senior level by caretaker manager Noel King in 2013, he was an unused sub on four occasions before he made his senior international debut against Turkey in 2014.

He was handed a start in a friendly at home to Slovakia in March 2016, but suffered an injury and was replaced by Darren Randolph after just 16 minutes, his last cap.

Newcastle's player of the season in 2015/16, Elliot has struggled with injury and loss of form hasn't played for the Magpies since December 2017.

Elliot, Jack Colback, Jamie Sterry, Luke Charman, Víctor Fernández, Liam Gibson and Nathan Harker are all leaving the club.

Manager Steve Bruce said: "Many of the players leaving us have been with the club for a long time and, both personally and on behalf of the club, I'd like to thank them.

"I'm sure supporters will join me in appreciating their efforts over the years and we wish them the very best with the next steps in their careers."

O'Hara and Elliot are the latest current or former Ireland internationals to find themselves without a club.

In recent weeks, Darron Gibson (Salford), Paul Green (Crewe), Joe Murphy (Shrewsbury) were released.

Daryl Murphy (Bolton) is also awaiting an update on his future after his club were relegated to League One, with Murphy out of contract next week.