Alex O’Hanlon swaps Anfield for Inchicore launchpad

Alex O’Hanlon’s freely admits to sensing a degree of jealousy at watching his former teammates line out for Liverpool at Plymouth on Wednesday but the bigger picture means he’s content with his new adventure at St Patrick’s Athletic.
Alex O’Hanlon swaps Anfield for Inchicore launchpad

Now 20, the Dubliner made the headlines five years ago when Kenny Dalglish personally intervened to prevent another legend of the 1980s, Liam Brady, convincing him to turn down Liverpool for Arsenal.

O’Hanlon emerged from the same St Kevin’s Boys team as Jack Byrne and together they travelled to the north-west of England with wide eyes yet no guarantees.

Manchester City have yet to grant Byrne his first-team debut, though a loan spell in Holland last year helped him gain a senior international call-up, while O’Hanlon made it into a couple of first-team squads before departing Merseyside last summer.

From there, he spent six months at Huddersfield only to endure similar frustration to Anfield.

Liam Buckley became aware the midfielder was at a crossroads and pounced to lure him back to his homeland and Inchicore last week.

Unlike the brokering of his last contract, the seven-figure deal from Liverpool, a clatter of agents weren’t involved this time.

“I met Liam on my own and liked what I heard,” said Dubliner O’Hanlon yesterday. “I’m well able to look after myself now and didn’t need anyone to help.

“We agreed on a two-year deal and I can’t wait for the season to start next month.

“Playing in the League of Ireland will put me in the shop window like it did for the likes of Daryl Horgan and Richie Towell. I would certainly go back to England in time as I’d be much better prepared.”

At Liverpool, Dalglish’s promises were rendered immaterial within six months when the manager was sacked.

His replacement, Brendan Rodgers, vetoing a loan deal to Nottingham Forest, hampering rather than helping his progress. Then Jurgen Klopp, a German pragmatist, injected a dose of reality.

“Klopp brought me away with the first-team to a training camp in Spain last March and I really enjoyed working with him,” O’Hanlon explained. “As a central midfielder, he just said I had a lot of competition ahead of me.

“Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho have those spots and there’s about another seven in the queue behind them, including Cameron Brannagan and Kevin Stewart from my U23 team.

“A few years ago, Jordan Rossiter was seen as the next big thing when he made his debut but he left in the summer.

“Irish kids are better off joining a Championship club. In hindsight, that’s what I should have done.”

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