herald

Friday 21 September 2018

O'Hara's aims with club and country

Cap aim: Kieran O’Hara
Cap aim: Kieran O’Hara

His career as a goalkeeper came about by accident, a way for his mother to keep a busy seven-year-old busy.

But this week, Manchester United keeper Kieran O'Hara is on the verge of a possible senior international debut, against Turkey on Friday.

Having a place in the Ireland squad as a keeper does not necessarily lead to a cap: Alan O'Neill noted in an interview with Dundalk Sport that he was on the bench eight times at senior level under four managers "but not one of them would give me two bleeding minutes" and he remained uncapped.

Aaron McCarey, Stephen Henderson and Ian Lawlor have all been the senior panel but were not capped, but with the senior trio of Darren Randolph, Keiren Westwood and Rob Elliot all unavailable for Friday's test in Turkey, there is an opening.

Bradford's Colin Doyle (32) has seniority while Ross County's Aaron McCarey has first-team football to boast of.

O'Hara has yet to play a senior game but the Epsom-born player, who qualifies for Ireland through his paternal grandparents, from Galway, is rated at Old Trafford, evidence in a new deal signed last December, and Martin O'Neill is also impressed as this is O'hara's second senior call-up.

"I got into senior training and that was a great experience for me, to be involved with players who are in the senior team and learn from them," he says.

But it's an accident that he became a keeper. "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 U6s or U7s needed a goalkeeper," he says.

"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 and I just fell in love with it. That was my local club in Manchester and I just fell in love with it from there."

Now he tries to make the grade with Ireland and United. "I just signed a new two and a half-year deal in December, so it's good that my performances have been recognised with a new contract," he says.

"Obviously I'll be aiming to kick on, continue my good performances at U23 level and hopefully push on for the first team."

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