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brennan's brief Irish football in safe hands as Caoimhin Kelleher paves the way for next generation of players

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp congratulates goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp congratulates goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp congratulates goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher


From little acorns come mighty oaks. And how we might one day look back at Caoimhin Kelleher’s Champions League debut for Liverpool as the start of a special time for Irish football.

Let me explain. Things may not be good for the game in this country right now. Our senior men won’t be at the Euros next year, and while our U-21s and senior women came close, both came up short in their recent qualifying campaigns.

But anyone who knows anything about football in Ireland knows that we have a gifted bunch of lads, roughly between the ages of 17 and 22, all striving to make a breakthrough with club and country.

One of the big reasons the U-21s failed to qualify for next year's tournament was, for their last three games, senior boss Stephen Kenny was forced to raid the underage squad to bolster a senior side beset by injuries and Covid causalities. Kelleher was one of them.

We know that ALL these gifted youngsters won’t make it to the top. That’s just the professional game – but if even half of them do, we'll have the backbone of the Irish football team for the next decade.

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Caoimhin Kelleher saves from Ajax's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

Caoimhin Kelleher saves from Ajax's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

PA

Caoimhin Kelleher saves from Ajax's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

And Kelleher is the first of those players to get a chance with a really big club. Yes, Dara O’Shea is doing really well with West Brom, but, with respect to the Baggies, if they avoid relegation from the Premier League this season it will have been a good one for Slaven Bilic’s side.

Liverpool are the best club football team in the world right now. Any anyone who wants to argue that point should know that the trophy for the World Club Cup competition currently rests in the Anfield boardroom.

And Kelleher has now clearly been promoted to No 2 goalkeeper in Jurgen Klopp's team. That means he will play in Liverpool’s next two games, against Wolves on Sunday, and Midjtylland on Wednesday, as first-choice Alisson works his way back from a muscle strain.

Twice last summer, Jurgen Klopp knocked back loan requests from Dutch clubs for Kelleher's service. He clearly knew the day that he would put the 22-year-old Cork lad ahead of Adrian in the Anfield pecking order was coming fast.

And the reason Klopp gave for promoting Kelleher was very informative for young goalkeepers. It’s not just about shot-stopping and plucking crosses from the sky anymore, you must also be able to kick accurately with both feet.

That’s what persuaded Klopp to promote Kelleher on Tuesday night and it is the same reason that Pep Guardiola basically fired Joe Hart, who was England No 1 at the time – because he couldn’t trust Hart to deliver accurate passes to team-mates with his feet.

Now, Jayson Molumby, Troy Parrott, Conor Coventry, Jason Knight and so many more, Caoimhin has shown the way. It’s time to start making a move, lads.

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