Galway United’s Jake Keegan targets cup success – and survival

American striker hoping to keep scoring and one day get opportunity to play in MLS

Galway United’s Jake Keegan was top scorer for the club during their promotion season and has continued that good form during this campaign. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Galway United’s Jake Keegan was top scorer for the club during their promotion season and has continued that good form during this campaign. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

There have been a few things that have not gone to plan this season for his side that have been outside the control of Liam Buckley but if a Jake Keegan goal is the difference between St Patrick’s Athletic and Galway United at the end of Saturday’s EA Sports Cup final, then the Dubliner will have to take some of the blame.

Keegan, a 25 year-old striker from Sunny Lane, Stormville in New York State, was recommended to Buckley two years ago but, with Christy Fagan flying, he mentioned the American to Tommy Dunne.

After a decent college career and a short spell in the German lower leagues, Keegan was on the lookout for a place where he could add substance to his sporting CV. Galway proved an ideal opportunity.

Regional league

“I had some time in Germany [with regional league side FCA Darmstadt, neighbours of the unlikely Bundesliga outfit] and really enjoyed it but I felt that I could play at a higher level. It was a good place to live . . . [but] you’d be in training and there’d be the team talk where the coach was like ‘blah, blah, blah,’ and then at the end he’d take me aside and just say, ‘right, do this’. So you miss out on the overall tactical stuff, which isn’t great.”

At United he feels central to what Dunne and the squad are trying to achieve. He was the club’s top scorer as they won promotion last season and tops the chart again as they aim to win a cup and secure their Premier Division status. Everyone, he says, is pulling together even if the priorities differ a little between players and those who are actually running a club that has been through so much turmoil.

“Yeah, if you ask any of the individual players, they’d probably say they want to win a cup but if you ask anyone at the club, they’re saying; ‘no, we’ve got to stay in the division’. You can understand the different points of view but hopefully over the next few weeks we won’t have to choose, we’ll manage to do both.”

Getting both Keegan and Enda Curran, who has missed quite a few games this season, into the side at the one time may be key to that but the signs are good and the American believes the pair, along with Padraic Cunningham, who misses this weekend’s game through injury, have the potential to make an even bigger impact together. “I think that between the three of us we could compete at any club in the division. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself there, but that’s my opinion.”

Crack at MLS

Keegan is open to extending his stay in Ireland, before getting a crack at MLS. “I’m happy to keep playing in Ireland but in the long term I’d very much like to play a few years in the MLS.”

He actually passed up a trial with Philadelphia Union to travel but has, he insists, no regrets about the decision.

“Just to be in the league now would be an honour,” he says. “To be in the same side or to play against some of these guys, some of the biggest names in world football. It would be a great thing to be able to do.

“But even at the time I don’t think I realised how good it was going to be for me to move away for a while. Looking back on it, I’ve learned so much; not just about the game but about myself and the way the world is.

“I’ve no regrets. But I still hope to play MLS one day and I believe that if I can keep playing well, I’ll get my chance.”

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