Kelly is enjoying his football again

ACADEMY: For every Darren Ambrose, Kieron Dyer and Wayne Rooney that leaps from youth-team football to the first team with hardly a pause, there are many other bright young talents who fall by the wayside.

ACADEMY: For every Darren Ambrose, Kieron Dyer and Wayne Rooney that leaps from youth-team football to the first team with hardly a pause, there are many other bright young talents who fall by the wayside, writes David Vincent.

Two years ago, when an Ipswich side which included Ambrose, Darren Bent, Matt Bloomfield and Ian Westlake went all the way to the FA Youth Cup semi-final, a young Irish goalkeeper was earning rave reviews.

But while others have gone on to first-team appearances for Ipswich and elsewhere, Darren Kelly's time at Portman Road ended in a nightmare of injury and months out of action.

Irish schoolboy international Kelly starred in a tremendous FA Youth Cup final semi-final, second leg at Portman Road, despite Town losing out to a star-studded Arsenal side.


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Ipswich had won the away leg of the semi-final at Higbury with two goals each by Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose but couldn't hang on to their lead.

Kelly looked destined for great things but missed most of last season through injury and dropped down the pecking order as other academy keepers, like Lewis Price, impressed.

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It was no surprise when Kelly was released to find himself a new club.

But now, back home in Dublin, he is enjoying his football again and hoping to combine it with a career in the police force.

This week he was due to turn out for the police team in a vital game in their regional league.

"It is a big relegation battle and they want me to play. I hope I can help them.

"Things are going well. I am training with Kildare County and have played five games for them.

"Things were going wrong for me at Ipswich and I needed a change. I had almost a year out. If I hadn't, I could have been pushing for the first team. It was very disappointing.

"I'm feeling fit again and I have lost weight, something I wasn't able to do at Ipswich.

"I needed to come back here and get my head together. My life is going well at the moment.

"If I am going to be a police officer I am having to go back to do some studies and then I will have to train for two years.

"And it is good to be playing football again."

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