Keeva Keenan thriving under Vera Pauw after Colin Bell snub

With the backing of Celtic colleague Damien Duff, Keeva Keenan has taken the Ireland women’s team by storm under the Vera Pauw regime.

Keeva Keenan thriving under Vera Pauw after Colin Bell snub

The full-back arrived on the international stage as a 16-year-old matchwinner against England at the U19 Euro finals in 2015, only to be cast aside by Colin Bell.

Keenan’s exclusion from the senior ranks during the Bell era was puzzling given she was operating to at least semi-professional level in the Scottish league.

The Dubliner departed champions Glasgow City to join Celtic in early 2018 and is their reigning Player of the Year.

The biggest club in Scottish football broke new ground earlier this year by upgrading the status of their squad to full-time professionals.

Proof that the investment is yielding success came on Sunday when they inflicted a first defeat in three years on Glasgow City.

Duff, currently assistant to Neil Lennon, has been tracking the progress of his compatriot and Keena herself feels a changing of the guard is imminent.

“Glasgow City have won every title for the past 13 seasons,” explained the defender yesterday at an Irish camp building up to Tuesday’s Euro qualifier in Greece.

“The day is coming that another team will take over. Celtic are doing great things with the women’s section.

“We train mostly at Lennoxstown, the same facility used by the men’s squad. I’m really enjoying my football there."

I met Damien Duff and Jonathan Hayes at the Player of the Year ceremony at the end of last season and they were giving their congratulations. They couldn’t have been nicer.

Success at international level, by earning a first-ever major qualification, would also enhance Keenan’s reputation.

Pauw’s appointment in September triggered an overhaul but the comeback of Keenan was instigated by assistant boss Eileen Gleeson.

“I turned Eileen down as a kid when I signed for Shelbourne rather than her Peamount side,” she explained. “We become enemies in the national league but always respected each other.

“My mother Rachel and Eileen were good friends through work and I was delighted to get the call-up.

“Being put straight into the starting team for the qualification win over Ukraine was a major shock. There were nerves but the win puts us in a great position to challenge to reach the 2021 Euros.”

Her euphoria is a contrast to her one and only previous experience in camp.

“My first day involved no training and the 14-hour meeting in a small room of a hotel,” she says, referring to the infamous strike by the players before that Slovakia friendly. “That was an interesting time but I didn’t get a shout from Colin after that.

“I thought my chance of playing for Ireland again had gone but I’m glad to be part of the new set-up.”

More on this topic

Parrott: 'Walking out in green in my home town was the best feeling ever'Parrott: 'Walking out in green in my home town was the best feeling ever'

Sean Maguire: Ireland victory important for qualifier against DenmarkSean Maguire: Ireland victory important for qualifier against Denmark

Player ratings from Ireland's victory over New ZealandPlayer ratings from Ireland's victory over New Zealand

Ireland ease to comeback victory on night of firsts against New ZealandIreland ease to comeback victory on night of firsts against New Zealand

More in this Section

Catriona Matthew to captain Europe again in 2021 Solheim CupCatriona Matthew to captain Europe again in 2021 Solheim Cup

Football rumours from the mediaFootball rumours from the media

Mullins plans another light campaign for Photo en route to CheltenhamMullins plans another light campaign for Photo en route to Cheltenham

Nathan Collins confident of U21 chances in ArmeniaNathan Collins confident of U21 chances in Armenia


Lifestyle

In an industry where women battle ageism and sexism, Meryl Streep has managed to decide her own destiny – and roles, writes Suzanne HarringtonJeepers Streepers: Hollywood royalty, all hail queen Meryl

'Ask Audrey' has been the newspaper's hysterical agony aunt “for ages, like”.Ask Audrey: Guten tag. Vot the f**k is the story with your cycle lanes?

Daphne Wright’s major new exhibition at the Crawford addresses such subjects as ageing and consumerism, writes Colette SheridanFinding inspiration in domestic situations

Christian Bale and Matt Damon tell Laura Harding about their roles in Le Mans ‘66, the tale of the men paid by Ford to take on the dominance of Ferrari in the motor-racing worldFoot to the floor: Christian Bale and Matt Damon talk about Ford, Ferrari and the 24 hours of Le Mans

More From The Irish Examiner