Despite United’s win-less start to the season there have been signs that they may turn the corner sooner than later. One such sign has been the form of striker, Ruairi Keating.
Keating has scored three goals from four starts and one substitute appearance so far, and he has set his sights high this season. The first thing he wants to do though, is to help the team get on a steady run of results. He thinks that better form is close, but it will only be as a result of hard work.
“I think as a squad we haven’t really got there yet, but we will,” sad Ruairi. “This season we have a very good group – an honest bunch. Everybody wants to do well and everyone is on the same page. I know it hasn’t looked like that on the pitch, but the way we have been working behind the scenes is all positive. We just need to take this into a match now. I think we will and I think we’re close.”
Player-manager Kevin Nicholson and the Club parted ways last week. Despite disappointment that the manager that gave him his chance is no longer at the Club, Keating is aware that him and his teammates need to deliver results on the pitch to move United up the table.
“It is only the second time this as ever happened [to me]. I had just come up through the youth academy in Ireland and the manager left. It is disappointing what has happened, and a lot of people are disappointed, but at the end of the day it is football and we are professional footballers. It is only us that can make it better.”
Keating shows a mental strength and maturity that is a rare find in a player his age. He displays a keen knowledge of what it takes to have a career in the game. That includes a sense of what kind of player he is.
“I’ve worked on a couple of things – the areas of the game I need to improve upon. I bring something to the game and I stick to what I am good at. I don’t try to do anything fancy; I’m not that sort of player.”
The Yellow Army have appreciated Keating’s hard work and commitment on the pitch, but this shouldn’t be the only thing that fans should notice about the striker. He has shown skill and composure to score all three of his goals so far this season.
“My hard work on the pitch is just in me – that’s the way I was brought up. I like to get stuck in and I like to work very hard. I take my football very seriously.
“I caught the eye with my hard-working performances when I was given the opportunity here. The footballing side of my game is improving all the time. I’ve worked on things I need to touch up on. I need to get better and I feel like I am getting better all the time.”
Intelligent movement can be one of the most important talents a striker can have. Without finding space, and timing your run, a player won’t be in the right area to score however lethal in front of goal he may be. Keating displays a sound understanding that this is an important facet of the game.
“When I see my teammates on the ball I am thinking about where I should be. I like to be on the move. My movement is a very important side of my game. It is an instinct, because when I peel off and make a run I am figuring that Gozzy [Jake Gosling] or Youngy [Luke Young] will find me with a ball. I also need to make space for them, as well as find space where I can get on the ball and score, or link-up with my teammates.”
Keating came to this country looking for an opportunity to play as high a level as possible. Now that he is here and away from home, he is keen to impress his family back home in Ireland.
“I’m all about the team and I’m a massive squad player. I’m genuine when I say I don’t care who scores the goals, as long as we win – it’s three points. The squad is more important than any individual. However, it is nice to score goals and when I do I like everyone back home to know how I am doing. I just want to make them proud and that’s what I’m all about.”
We asked Ruairi to talk us through the three goals he has scored so far this season:
I got myself into a position in the box where I was free and I can be a threat. JP [Jon-Paul Pittman] got his head up and picked me out perfectly. He put it on a plate for me and the ‘keeper came across and I headed it back towards the far corner.
We were chasing the game and Clarkey [goalkeeper, Ryan Clarke] punted one up the field and JP went to win the header and the centre-half went with him. He left some space behind him so I gambled that the defender would lose the header and JP would head it on, or that the ball would go over both of them with neither of them winning the ball. The defender did miss it and it fell through nicely. I made sure it was my ball and put it away.
It was a nice bit of interplay between me and ‘Reidy’ [Jamie Reid]. I got myself into a position where I could be a threat. I like to keep moving and get myself into spaces where my teammates will know I’ll be. It happened against Guiseley. I peeled off the centre half and he went to close down ‘Reidy’ and there was space. ‘Reidy’ slipped me in and I put it away.