Youngsters are not there just to make up the numbers, insists Keegan

Youngsters are not there just to make up the numbers, insists Keegan

Having caught the eye in the club’s shortened pre-season, Dundalk team manager Shane Keegan believes teenage duo Ryan O’Kane and Val Adedokun can surprise a few people by pushing for a first-team place when the serious business gets underway in the next couple of weeks.

O’Kane was again in fine form against Drogheda Utd at Head in the Game Park on Saturday, winning the penalty for David McMillan’s equaliser while, having played a part in that goal, Adedokun popped up with his first goal for the club eight minutes before the break to give the Lilywhites a 2-1 lead at half-time.

While a Malone Cup match might not be a big deal for some of Dundalk’s more experienced campaigners, Keegan said the respective displays of the two 17-year-olds against a good Drogheda Utd side shows their undoubted potential.

“It’s fantastic for the club to have two fellas of that age starting side by side on the left flank and doing as well as they did,” he said.

“They’re two fellas who are absolutely not there to make up the numbers this year. Them two lads are fully intending on pushing for starting places that’s for sure and neither of them did their chances any harm today. I thought the two of them were really, really good.”

O’Kane, grandson of former club chairman Tony, has particularly excited supporters in his two cameo displays to date and Keegan admitted his emergence had changed the club’s attitude in relation to searching for a new winger after a proposed deal for South Korean Han Eui-gwon was scuppered by work permit issues in recent weeks.

“I think so because he has made a constant impact in the two games so far and I mean we’re not playing against teams who we expect to be in the bottom half of the First Division here. They’re not those kind of friendlies.

“He has come up against two very good right backs and he has done very, very well. You are conscious of not wanting to put too much on his shoulders too young either you know.

“I suppose the fact too that he has probably shown his best bits in a position that unfortunately has been filled by a guy called Michael Duffy for the last couple of years, that will make things tough for him when Mickey is back but look anything we could have asked of Ryan so far he has done really, really well.”

Meanwhile, Keegan felt that Adedokun’s growth in the 3-2 win over Drogheda Utd on Saturday echoed that of the team.
“You always say you’re not worried about results but at the same time it’s a help when you win games isn’t it?,” he laughed.

“I thought we started reasonably well and then dipped. We probably struggled there for 10 minutes leading into their goal but thankfully nobody got on each other’s backs and they bounced back very, very well and we really started to get moving and I suppose that was best summed up probably by Val who, I won’t say he struggled for the first 20 minutes, but he was finding his feet let’s say but before you know it he has had a brilliant bit of combination play with Ryan to create the penalty and then very shortly after that he’s putting the ball in the back of the net himself, so he in particular probably stepped up big time as the half went on and I think as a team we did as well,” said Keegan.