Irish Colleges and Universities star Conor Keeley: 'To represent my country against one of the best university teams in the world is fantastic'

Tue, Jun 12 2018

Keeley in action for Cabinteely against Athlone. Credit: Al Robinson

It has been a memorable week for Meath men on the soccer front and it is set to continue this afternoon when Cabinteely centre-half Conor Keeley lines out for the Ireland Colleges and Universities team against France at City Calling Stadium in Longford (kick-off 4pm).

The 20-year-old Dunboyne man learned his trade at St Kevin's Boys from under-5s to under-10s and then back to Dunboyne AFC for two years.

rom there he made the move to Shelbourne and played the rest of his underage football at the club before being promoted to the senior team at just 17, earning his debut in the final game of the 2015 season.

The following season he continued his steady progress with a further ten league appearances for the Reds before answering the call from Pat Devlin at Cabinteely on the south side prior to the 2017 season.

Although just 20 years of age, The Griffith College student has plenty of experience already at national level having made his league debut at just 17.

He certainly stands out at 6'5, and the centre-half immediately slotted comfortably into the heart of the Cabinteely defence, showing a real maturity and intelligence on the ball on a regular basis.

“I feel like I’m having a good season at Cabo and I’m really enjoying it,” Keeley told extratime.ie.

“We started off slow, losing most of the first round of games, but we’re after picking up good results in the last few weeks so hopefully we can continue that good form this Friday and after the break.”

The consistently high level of performances being put in throughout the season so far has this week earned the Meath man his first international Colleges call up over the weekend by Greg Yelverton.

Just last week, fellow Dunboyne man and neighbour Darragh Lenihan earned his first senior international cap against USA.

Keeley will hope today is just the first of many future call ups in the green jersey and it is a fitting reward for his consistently high performance levels in the heart of defence for Cabinteely this season.

It’s one thing to be able to show such composure and calmness in your natural position at the heart of defence, but to also be able to get forward and contribute goals on a fairly regular basis is a huge bonus for Cabinteely and an important asset to the team.

It's a proud day for Keeley and another proud day for a small village like Dunboyne, with their second international call up in the space of just a week.

Keeley added: “I’m delighted to have been called up by Greg and it’s something that I’m very proud of. To represent my country against one of the best university teams in the world is fantastic.

“France finished second in the world university games last year in Taipei so we know it’s going to be a tough game but I’m really looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s great for a small town like Dunboyne to be doing so well, and hopefully it will be the first of many for me. but there’s still a lot of work to do if I am to remain in this squad.”

Another young star who is doing extremely well with lots of hard work and commitment but most importantly has the maturity and intelligence to know he must keep the head down and continue to work hard.

If he does this, more opportunities may not be too far away, including a few more green jerseys.

The Republic of Ireland Colleges and Universities Team take on France Universities at City Calling Stadium at 4pm.

Republic of Ireland Colleges and Universities Squad:

Goalkeepers: Matt Connor (Waterford IT/Waterford FC), Cathal O’Hanlon (UCC/UCC AFC).

Defenders: Shane Elworthy (IT Blanchardstown/Longford Town), Conor Kane (Maynooth University/Drogheda United), Conor Keeley (Griffith College Dublin/Cabinteely), Liam Scales (UCD/UCD AFC), Pierce Phillips (UCC/Cobh Ramblers*), Darragh Gibbons (Maynooth University/Bray Wanderers).

Midfielders: Jamie Hollywood (IT Blanchardstown/Longford Town), Shane Daly-Butz (UCC/UCC AFC), Georgie Poynton (Dundalk IT/Dundalk FC), Daire O’Connor (UCD/UCD AFC), Anthony McAlavey (IT Carlow/Cobh Ramblers), Jonny Bonner (IT Carlow/Crusaders).

Forwards: Georgie Kelly (UCD/UCD AFC), Jason McClelland (UCD/UCD AFC), Jack O’Keeffe (Dundalk IT/Dundalk FC), Carlton Ubaezuonu (Dundalk IT/Galway United*)
*On Loan