Having a goalkeeper like David De Gea in the first team, somehow the standards in the goalkeeping matter at Manchester United are set. That’s exactly what Reserves goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara is trying to achieve. O’Hara joined the club when was eight years old and is now willing to become part of the first team and have the chance to show his values.
Kieran O’Hara has represented the team at the Aegon Future Cup early in the 2012 and was a key player for the side, helping them reach the final. Kieran made some stunning saves during the opening day showing his qualities. However the side managed by Paul McGuinness lost to Ajax in the final.
Unlike his academy teammates, O’Hara was sent out on loan in a young age, 16 or 17 and of course was a bit confused as he wasn’t sure why all that was happening, trying to figure out the reason behind this decision. Academy goal keeping coaching Alan Fettis said that Kieran didn’t just took the decision well but was also determined to gain experience and get back even stronger. Here’s what he stated:
“I think he was a bit apprehensive in the first instance when we asked him to go as he wasn’t really sure about the reasoning behind it. He was saying: ‘You’re sending me to Trafford but I want to play for Manchester United.’ I can understand that, at the age of 16 or 17, but he took it on board and he began playing men’s football in front of crowds where the games actually mean something.”
Seems that the loan experiences he has had in the past few years have helped him grow and according to Alan, O’Hara is more mature and has progressed, pleasant for everyone that has taken care of him in his academy years. The youngster spent the 2013/2014 season on loan at Trafford FC, helping them in their FA Cup run and U18s manager at the time McGuinness always kept an eye on him, following him in a few games for Trafford FC. This loan can be considered successful for the goalie with the experience he won and the way he was handling several situations. Trafford FC manager at the time Murray was pleased to see him back after Kieran was involved with the U18s back in the United academy:
“Trafford FC would like to sincerely thank the coaching staff at Carrington for allowing Kieran to play for our club. He’s already played in two FA Cup games at the young age of just 17 years and the Shawe View faithful are all delighted to see young Kieran in a Trafford Shirt again. From what we’ve already seen he certainly looks to have a bright future in football and we hope his time with us helps in his development.”
Not having many chances to play for the U21s as Joel Pereira was always first choice at the Reserves, more loan moves expected Kieran, as he was looking for more minutes. O’Hara signed his first professional contract in 2014 despite the difficulties on finding spaces in the Reserves being rewarded for the hard work. Then a one month loan spell move followed at AFC Fylde and didn’t get the chance to play for the U21s until the final league game. This surely wasn’t satisfying for the young Irish and the best option was to go out on loan again, this time at Morecambe in deadline day last season and switched teams again by joining Stockport in a short period as he got back to Morecambe soon. He sees the progression he has made in this loan move, aware that it has helped him grow:
“The Morecombe loan helped me a lot. It’s been my first loan out in the league and I made my league debut, played a few games and got massive experience. It was great value for me as a goalkeeper, getting used to playing in front of crowds and under pressure.
“You have to learn quickly at that level and it’s helped me a hell of a lot. Looking forward maybe another loan in January may be an option to get more experience and develop my game further to become the best goalkeeper that I can.”
This year might be decisive for many United youngsters playing for the Reserves, including Kieran O’Hara. Joel Pereira and Dean Henderson have gone on loan and the Irish is now first choice for Nicky Butt. In the games that he has played O’Hara has showed discipline and quick in the decision-making. Overall it hasn’t been a good year for the U23’s following the departures but he is one of the players that stands out. Kieran will soon turn 21 and is yet to make an appearance in the first team as the list of talented young goalkeepers is large starting with Pereira, Johnstone, Henderson etc.
His displays this season have been incredible and in the last match against Chelsea he saved a penalty as well, showing that he does have the skills and the instinct of a great goalkeeper. United have plenty of choices when it comes to this area and the future is bright. Having won experience in such young age, Kieran knows that in football hard work and talent count but the chance will come in the right time.
The United youngster is really happy that he has got several chances to train with De Gea and is full of praise when it comes to him:
“In my opinion David De Gea is one of if not the best goalkeepers in the world right now so to get to see him every day and to get the privilege to train with him sometimes and learn from him can only improve me as a goalkeeper.”
Kieran O’Hara was born in Manchester but his grandparents are from Galway, so he is eligible to play for England and Republic of Ireland as well. In the U21s side he has been involved with Ireland and was really happy about this new experience:
“I always thought about the possibility of declaring for Ireland and my Dad was always keen for me to do so. We’d have a bit of banter about the England or Ireland thing but it was always something I knew was possible and to get the call from Noel was an honour.”
Expectations on him are high even reaching the level of David De Gea but as it is said for every youngster of his age: it will always be up to him, whether he gives all he has and performs.