Conor Keeley:'We didn't let late French tackles affect our performance - we stood up and showed no fear'

Sun, Jun 17 2018

Keeley joined Cabo from Shelbourne ahead of the 2017 season. Credit: Eoin Smith

Cabinteely defender Conor Keeley spoke proudly after playing his part in Ireland’s College and University team earning their first-ever win against a France team ranked second in the world.

The 20-year-old is currently studying in Griffith College whilst balancing a part time job and lining our for Cabinteely every weekend.

On Tuesday he made his international debut as he pulled on the green shirt for Greg Yelverton’s side, and the Meathman was delighted with how the game went overall.

“It was a fantastic result yesterday,” he told extratime.ie after the game.

“I thought we played well and did what we had to do to get the win. It was the first time the team has ever beaten France so it was a very positive performance and result for everyone.”

France had their work cut out for them from early on and Georgie Poynton took advantage of their sluggish start, breaking the deadlock for the home side with a stunning 35-yard free kick.

Ireland doubled their lead just two minutes later through defender Darragh Gibbons, leaving Yelverton’s side in a nice position heading into the dressing room at half time.

Les Bleus were clearly rattled and had no problem taking their frustration out on the home side with their feisty tackling earning them three yellow cards in the opening half.

“They left a few late challenges on the lads including one on myself but we expected that.

“The positive thing from our point of view was we didn’t let those challenges affect our performance – we stood up to them and showed no fear.”

Both squad and management will take great confidence in the overall team performance and will take plenty of positives from a win against one of the strongest teams in the world at this level.

The key now is to take as much as possible from this game as preparation begins for the 2019 World University Games.

For now though, the centre-half will return to work and to his club football with Cabinteely as they look to continue their push for a promotion place.

An upturn in form in recent weeks as well as players getting opportunities like this should result in a boost of confidence around the team and a general feel good factor among the players.

“2019 is a goal to work towards and the World University Games but there’s still plenty of work to do personally for me to get into that squad.

“The quality of players that are in the league fighting for every place is very high so I just have to keep fighting and focussing on each game as it comes.

“It was a very proud moment for me and one I’ll never forget having my family there watch me and definitely it’s going to help me going back into playing with Cabo.”

Manager Greg Yelverton also spoke after the 2-1 victory over the French and he was delighted with the performance both from the team and individual performances across the pitch as well.

He said: "I am delighted for the boys. They have really taken on board the style of play we want to produce on the pitch.”

“You always want to play against the best teams.

“We've one eye on the 2019 World University Games but today it was just a matter of getting a win against France on Irish soil and show that our lads are just as good as the best teams."