Sport Soccer

Saturday 17 March 2018

Positive O'Dea eager to focus on Bhoys future after Reading stint

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

DARREN O'DEA has described his loan spell at Reading as the worthiest experience of his life, even though the outside perception was that it was a disaster.

The Dubliner was sent out by Celtic last August to gain first-team experience, but the beginning of the new campaign was so bad results wise that O'Dea eventually fell out of the team and boss Brendan Rodgers was sacked.

However, the 23-year-old feels that he matured from the episode and returned to Celtic in January having shed the label of 'callow' youth. Indeed, he captained the SPL side for a number of games in the second half of the season, and feels that he's heading in the right direction, ready to capitalise on his stint with the Irish senior squad for this week's training camp.

"A lot of stuff happened to me at Reading," he says, "On the pitch, off the pitch. I grew up as a person. I'd been at Celtic since I was 15, I'd say I've been babied like, I've always been looked upon as the young one coming through.

"But I got away for six months and got out of that mould. I learned a lot as a player, but more as a person. Since I came back to Celtic, I played 90 per cent of the games so it's been a positive season looking back, although it may seem strange from the outside to say that."

Now, O'Dea (above) would like to continue that run into next season and, significantly, he would like Neil Lennon to be the man in charge.

The Home Farm graduate feels sympathy for Tony Mowbray, and says the players should take the blame for his departure. In tandem, he believes the dressing-room deserves credit for better league results under Lennon, yet he does feel the stand-in manager has done enough to earn a proper stint in the hot-seat.

"I'd say you'd be hard pushed to find a player who doesn't hope that," he states. "But it's down to the powers-that-be to decide that. It's a big decision but I'm sure they'll make the right one. You can talk about experience but he's come in and won every game bar the one game (Scottish Cup semi-final versus Ross County).

"That certainly wasn't down to managerial decisions -- that was down to a shocking performance from the players."

Irish Independent

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