RICHARD KEOGH went into action for the Republic of Ireland Under 21 side last night content that his loan move to Town will pay big dividends this season.
The Harlow-born 21-year-old admits he’s still trying to get to grips with all the Northern accents in the Galpharm squad.
But he’s settled in quickly under Andy Ritchie and believes the chance to play in League I has come at just the right time.
The Harlow-born player is out of contention at Bristol City at the moment, despite being Young Player of the Year during their promotion last term and captaining the Republic Under 21s, who were playing Portugal in a vital qualifier in Cork last night (Michael Collins was also on duty and likely to miss today’s trip to Crewe).
So to get the call from the Galpharm was music to his ears and, despite Tuesday’s shocking 4-1 defeat in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Grimsby, he is confident both himself and the team can build on last Saturday’s encouraging 2-1 victory against Millwall at The New Den.
“I don’t want to sound big-headed but I did have a good season last time,” reflected the man who started out at Stoke.
“It was the first season where I got in the team and played a lot of matches and I know I’m still young and still learning, but it went well.
“You come up against good players every week at this level – League I is a good division – so to get the Young Player award at Bristol City was a great achievement and I wanted to carry that through into this campaign.
“Unfortunately for me it hasn’t really worked out this time.
“I thought it might have done because of what I did last season but that’s football, it changes very quickly.
“Just like now. One minute I’m not in the picture at Bristol City and the next I’m thrown in at the deep end with Town, helping to pick up a great result down at Millwall and being pleased with my own performance.
“It didn’t go so well for us on Tuesday, but this move has come at just the right time for me because I want to be playing football matches and I want to be improving all the time.
“Like I say, football can change in the blink of an eye but I’m here to play games, I hope I’ve already repaid some of the faith the manager has shown in me by playing my part in last Saturday’s win and I hope I’ve shown the lads and the fans what I’m about.”
Keogh, who has had previous loan spells with Vikingur in Iceland and Wycombe Wanderers, can’t now wait for his next appearance for Town, which is almost certain to come against Cheltenham next Saturday at the Galpharm.
“I haven’t actually played at the stadium – I was on the bench once without getting on – so I’m really looking forward to that,” he said.
“Obviously I knew what the place was like and a fair bit about the squad from Michael Collins, who I’ve met through the Ireland squads, and when I knew they were in for me I didn’t hesitate in coming.
“All the lads have made me feel very, very welcome, a lot of them are around my age anyway which helps when you are settling in, and the manager has been brilliant.
“He told me he was really pleased that I was available and willing to be added to the squad, because he’d been looking to bring in some bodies, and it was nice to feel wanted again.
“He said he felt I could really bring something to the squad and I hope, even though I’ve only been here a short time, that I’m proving that I can.”
Keogh – who qualifies for the Republic through his grandfather on his dad’s side – was watch by parents Sue and Ted at The New Den last weekend (it took them only 40 minutes to travel from their Essex home).
“It was good that they were able to come along and see me make my debut and doubly pleasing that we did so well,” he added.
“Wins like that at this stage of the season are priceless and, putting Tuesday’s performance out of our minds, if we keep on playing at the standard we set against Millwall then I think we’ll be around the top towards the end of the season.
“The spirit here is great, just like we had at Bristol last season, and there are a lot of good qualities in the squad, so if they chance comes along and my circumstances at Bristol City haven’t changed, then I’ll be very happy to consider staying longer.”