Aaron McCarey ready to make up for lost time

Ross County goalkeeper wants to make his mark in Turkey this week

“The focus for me this week is to impress, go back and help the club stay in the league.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

“The focus for me this week is to impress, go back and help the club stay in the league.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

Five years on from his first appearance in a senior Ireland squad, Aaron McCarey admits too much of career has passed him by. But the 26 year-old goalkeeper is playing regularly just now with Ross County in the Scottish Premiership and keen, he says, to lay down a marker with Martin O’Neill for what he still feels can be a brighter future.

McCarey left Monaghan United for Wolves back in 2010 and after featuring in the Under-19s side that went to the semi-finals of the European championships a year later, he got called up as cover by Giovanni Trapattoni for the 2013 game against Spain in New York.

His club career stalled, however, and he admits now that it was mistake to stay as long as he did at a club where, it became clear, he would never get the opportunity to establish himself.

“It’s a fantastic club and I have a great love for it, but I stayed a season too long,” he says. “Money was never an issue, it was all about trying to play, I was always in and around it, I was an injury away from playing but they didn’t have too many injuries when I was there. Then when there was an injury I was out injured myself for six months with my back so it was frustrating. I never got a stroke of luck with Wolves.”

The club, he says, were good to him when he failed a drug test for a recreational substance he steadfastly denied taking but it has still taken time to get some momentum into his career. Ross County have offered him that opportunity over the last couple of years but it is tough going being the goalkeeper at the club that props up the Scottish top flight.

“It’s been a struggle this year but we are on our third manager of the season and that tells its own story. We have been far too inconsistent, myself included, but we still have a fighting chance. The way the league splits you have five games against the bottom five teams, so there is an opportunity - there is a lot of football still to be played.

“I went to Ross County to play, that was a conscious decision. It didn’t work out that way last season, under the previous manager, but since Owen Coyle came and then Stuart Kettlewell, I have had a good run in the team, it’s good to get your face out there. So the focus for me this week is to impress, go back and help the club stay in the league.

“We have had a hard run, we have been struggling to keep a clean sheet and the confidence is at an all-time low, probably. We are missing a lot of our senior players for large periods of the season and that cost us but we have them back, everyone is fit, we picked up a valuable point on Saturday against Hamilton, that’s a sign of improvement.

“I am out of contract at the end of the season so we’ll see what happens in the summer, I am focused now on helping the club stay up.”

The midseason break should have provided a chance to relax back at home but it was marred by the death of Sean McCaffrey, the former FAI coach who had a hugely positive impact on the development of McCarey and so many other young players in the area.

“It was tragic,” he says. “Sean was a fantastic mentor for me, I have great memories and it was a privilege to be there. He was a wonderful character, he was his own man, a brilliant person. He would do anything for the lads, a lot of the players here would have worked under Sean and I don’t think I ever heard any say a bad word about him. That showed at his funeral.

“Without Sean, the leagues back in Monaghan wouldn’t be where they are; he put a lot into it, at his own expense, dipped into his own money to get it going. He took teams over from Liverpool, Man United and Ajax to play local lads and they will be forever indebted to him, the memories they have. A lot of them went on to have successful careers, he was a fantastic individual.”

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