Sunday 20 January 2019

O'Hara relishing chance to work under Keane

Kieran O'Hara. Photo: Sportsfile
Kieran O'Hara. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

For Manchester-born Kieran O'Hara, this was a big day.

The Ireland U-21 international was invited to train with the senior squad last October, but the trip to Turkey as a full member of the panel has put him in the spotlight.

And the 21-year-old spent a large part of Ireland's training session in Belek yesterday as the stopper for a lengthy shooting session orchestrated by Roy Keane.

"Growing up, Roy was a Manchester United captain and a club legend, he pretty much won everything," O'Hara enthuses. "To have someone like that watching over you is fantastic".

O'Hara is a Manchester United player too, although his name would not mean much to their supporters.

He's gained first-team experience on the non-league scene and then with Morecambe, but most of his football CV is built on games in the underage sphere.

Therefore, this invite to Turkey is a major opportunity for a player who qualifies through his Galway grandparents.

Ross County's Aaron McCarey was a late call-up, so Bradford's Colin Doyle is his main rival for a starting spot. O'Hara did not grow up dreaming of being a goalkeeper. It was actually his mother who sent him down that path.

"My mum was reading through the newspaper and I think she wanted to get me out of her hair one Sunday and the local team's U-6 or U-7 side needed a goalkeeper," he explains.

"I wasn't even that tall for my age, she just thought, 'he's pretty mad, so throw him in and see how he does', and it's gone from there. That was my local club in Manchester and I just fell in love with it from there."

He did well enough to catch the attention of United and, while he is down the pecking order, O'Hara did sign a two-and-a-half year deal in December. Jose Mourinho has brought him on European trips and David de Gea sets the daily standards that he needs to aspire towards.

"He helps during training. He speaks to you about the ways in which you can develop but mostly I just learn from watching him," he says. " I feel that's great to be around."

Irish Independent

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