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Youth Profile - Kieran McKenna

Posted on 8 May 2003  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Kieran McKenna enjoyed a strong end to a long season with some impressive performances for both club and country.

The 16-year-old was a regular for our Under-17s in his first full season in our Academy and found the net in recent weeks, while also standing out for Northern Ireland's youth team as well.

Unfortunately, our youngsters have seen their season brought to a close in the Under-17s play-offs following successive defeats to Blackburn Rovers and Southampton. Kieran scored both our goals in the 4-2 home defeat to the Saints which ultimately sealed our fate and, as he explains, there was great regret in the camp.

"Losing to Southampton was a real disappointment as it put us out of the play-offs," says Kieran. "I did score twice but it doesn't mean much because of the final outcome. We were ahead twice but gave away sloppy goals and two penalties in the second half killed us off.

"It was a tough group, Blackburn came second in their league while Southampton won theirs comfortably, so it was always going to be difficult, but it's still frustrating to go out."

On the international scene, Kieran is eligible to play for England, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland due to family origins, but is edging towards the latter at this early stage of his career.

"I've only played for the North so far, I did get invited for a training session with the Republic, but at the moment I think I'll be sticking with Northern Ireland."

It's a decision which will no doubt please the Northern Irish coaches, particularly after their recent Under-17 European Championship qualifying group matches against Austria, Finland and Yugoslavia. Kieran played 90 minutes in each one and, although they didn't qualify for the final stages, he was voted man of the match in two of the games.

"We lost to Austria and Yugoslavia and beat Finland but obviously that wasn't enough to see us top the group and go through," reveals Kieran. "But I won two man of the match awards which is a great personal achievement. It gives you confidence when you come back to the club and it felt good training off the back of good performances for your country.

"The experience was superb, moving up a level and playing against top youngsters from other countries. It's tough for Northern Ireland at senior level just now, but I think we've got some good young players coming through and hopefully the future is bright."

As a midfielder who can operate either in attack or defensive mode, Kieran reveals that the one player he does admire is Roy Keane.

"He has to be the one above all others for me personally," he says. "His determination, work-rate and will to win on the pitch is a great example for any young player."

For now though, Kieran will be looking to show that same determination in his own progress. He has played most of his football this year for the Under-17s, except for a brief substitute appearance for the Reserves, when he replaced Milenko Acimovic with nine minutes remaining in our 1-0 home defeat to Coventry City.

"It was nice to get a taste of the action at that level, even if it was only short," Kieran says. "But hopefully next season there might be a few more appearances for the Reserves, although my first aim is regular football with the Under-19s. I'll also be looking to develop physically with hard work in the gym as that should help my game too."

Coach's Comments - Jimmy Neighbour

Kieran took a couple of months to settle after coming over from Ireland, but as the season has gone on, he's got better and better. He works hard on his game, has a great attitude in training and has really improved during the campaign.

He passes the ball well and has a great touch and hopefully next year he will continue to get stronger. He's a good kid and if anyone deserves to make it on the strength of their attitude, it's Kieran.

By Jon Rayner, programme editor