Tuesday 24 October 2017

Keogh looking to repay Irish boss for words of encouragement by cementing spot in squad

Derby defender insists being in national camp has boosted his confidence once again after play-off final nightmare

Ireland's Richard Keogh during training at Malahide
Ireland's Richard Keogh during training at Malahide
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

It's been an up-and-down season for Richard Keogh.

He has now become a regular face in Martin O'Neill's Ireland squad, but the heartache of Derby's defeat in the Championship play-off final still lingers.

It was Keogh's error in the penalty area that gifted QPR's Bobby Zamora with the ball in the last minute of the game and the rest is history.

Despite the hurt, he admitted that coming back into the international set-up in the immediate aftermath has helped ease the pain.

"It's probably the best thing I could have done. Everyone has been great, it's nice to kind of forget about it a little bit and concentrate on football," the 27-year old said.

"It's always going to hurt, I think it's natural. Looking back, it was a disappointing end to the season for the club.

"It shows you when you come around this group (Ireland) of guys how good they are and the management team. They fill me with confidence and I'm feeling good."

Keogh revealed that Richard Dunne offered some words of consolation after the Wembley defeat as he was on the winning side that sealed their promotion back to the Premier League.

"I spoke to Dunney and he was great. He just said he's been there in his career as well, he's had some lows and you'll come back stronger and better," he said.

"To hear words like that from someone like that obviously means a lot. Even the gaffer (Martin O'Neill) and Roy (Keane) have said some really nice things and when people like that say things, it gives you so much confidence.

"You feel on top of the world. It was a disappointing end to a good season really."

With several centre-halves including Dunne and John O'Shea set to miss the upcoming two friendlies against Portugal and Costa Rica in America, Keogh looks set to be reinstated at the heart of Ireland's defence.

Keogh spoke last March after Ireland's 2-1 defeat to Serbia of his relief at being back regularly involved with his country and now that he has continued that run, he is keen to keep it going.

"I think so, yeah," he said after being asked if he now feels at home in the Irish squad.

"I think especially after playing in the Serbia game. My club form is good. I'm back in now and I'm becoming more part of the squad so, hopefully, I can continue staying here.

"There is a lot of competition for places. Hopefully, I can keep fighting for a place and be part of the qualifiers. That's what I'm looking forward to."

Keogh has one year left to run on his current contract with Derby and although he admitted that clubs might be looking at him during the summer, he maintained that he is happy as club captain of the Championship side.

"Obviously, if you ask anyone, you want to be playing in the Premier League and playing against world-class players.

"I've had a solid season, so there might be a bit of interest. But I'm totally focused on whatever happens here (with Ireland).

"I'm sure the club will sort everything out so I can get on with my life and get focused on pre-season."

Irish Independent

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