Just 10 minutes for Keane to decide on Shane

TEN minutes. That's all it took for manager Roy Keane to make a decision on Shane O'Connor's footballing future.

Carl Marston

TEN minutes. That's all it took for manager Roy Keane to make a decision on Shane O'Connor's footballing future.

Keane made a snap decision on O'Connor, after seeing him in action for just 10 minutes of his first training session last summer. He offered the teenager a one-year contract, and his gut feeling seems to have been proved right.

O'Connor was preparing to return to his native Ireland and drop into amateur football, when Keane handed him a lifeline at Portman Road.

And although he has had to battle back from a long-term injury, and bide his time in the Reserves, O'Connor did not disappoint during an eye-catching League debut at Sheffield Wednesday over the weekend.

He handled himself well, in Town's problem left-back role, and will be hoping to retain his place for tonight's trip to Scunthorpe. Keane would certainly have no qualms about sticking with his 19-year-old.

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“Five or six months ago, perhaps a touch longer, Shane (O'Connor) didn't even have a football club,” revealed Keane.

“He'd probably be back in Ireland now, And I don't even think he was thinking about the League of Ireland.

“I know he was speaking to the manager of the club I used to play with, Rockmount, which is obviously amateur. He's into his GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association - amateur football), and he was going to get back into that.

“But we told him to come over for a few weeks. He impressed people after just 10 minutes - you can see why people get jobs after interviews of just 10 minutes, you could tell.

“He came in and within 10 minutes I thought- 'He's going to get a contract!'

“It was just the way he trained and the way he walked out. He impressed everyone straight away, the coaching staff, his team-mates,” added Keane.

Town boss Keane was planning to monitor O'Connor's fitness in a light training session yesterday, to see if he would be able to cope with the rigors of two games in four days - the ex-Liverpool Acadenmy defender also played the majority of last week's Reserves game at Southend.

But finding a natural left-back has been a headache for Keane all season, with the likes of Damien Delaney, David Wright, Tommy Smith, Pim Balkestein and Jack Colback filling in at various stages of the campaign.

Keane continued: “Shane picked up a nasty injury in a practice match, after just a few minutes, and was out for three months. Otherwise, he'd have made his league debut earlier at the football club,

“We've played with right-footers at left-back and it's been difficult. Players have got by but you lose that bit of balance and Shane gave us that.

“But he's the one we have to be careful of, because Scunthorpe away is tough.”