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Stephen Kenny Brilliantly Explains How Each Of Ireland's Goalkeepers Offer Something Different

Stephen Kenny Brilliantly Explains How Each Of Ireland's Goalkeepers Offer Something Different
By Gary Connaughton

In a squad that could probably do with a bit more quality in some areas of the pitch, it seems a particularly Irish problem that three of arguably our best players this season have been goalkeepers.

Gavin Bazunu, Coaimhín Kelleher, and Mark Travers are three immensely talented players in that position, all of whom have had strong campaigns at their respective clubs.

Bazunu has continued to shine on loan at Portsmouth in League One, while Mark Travers has played a key role in Bournemouth's Premier League promotion push. Caoimhín Kelleher may have been acting as no. 2 at Liverpool, but he has massively impressed when given the opportunity and led the club to victory in the Carabao Cup final last month.

It all leads to question: who will be Ireland's first choice for 2022?

Bazunu certainly has the jersey at the moment, putting in some brilliant displays after making his debut last year. In saying that Stephen Kenny is a huge fan of Kelleher and the Cork man would likely be Ireland's no. 1 at the moment had he not been injured the international window in March of last year.

Stephen Kenny sums up Ireland's goalkeeping conundrum

Speaking to the media after the news of his new contract was announced, Stephen Kenny admitted you could make a case for each of the three players as to who has had the best season up until this point.

We have three keepers. Who has had the best season?

Because Gavin Bazunu is playing in League One, you probably wouldn't consider he has had the best season. Mark Travers arguably has had, it depends where you measure Caoimhín winning the trophy.

Colm O'Neill, our physical therapist, text Caoimhín to say that's two big titles he has won this year, because he won the table tennis in Spain (during the June international camp).

Each of the trio brings something different to the table.

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Travers is a commanding presence in the penalty area, while he has also improved with the ball at his feet. Bazunu is a natural leader within the group despite having only recently turned 20-years old, with Kelleher one of the calmest characters you will ever see on a pitch and one with incredible reactions.

Stephen Kenny brilliantly summed up each the characteristics of each goalkeeper.

Mark potentially could have been a pro golfer if he wasn't a goalkeeper, he was brilliant apparently by all accounts. He has that temperament, he is so consistent. He has a massive frame, 6'4 or 6'5 and gets in the way, he's difficult to beat and athletic.

He has improved with his feet, that was a criticism. It wasn't that he was bad with his feet, it's just that the other two are so exceptional with their feet that he wasn't as good as them with his distribution. He has definitely improved that.

The first time you meet Gavin and see him in a group, he is a leader. He has leadership qualities and is someone that carries himself this kind of aura. He would have done well in life whatever he would have done, he has a presence and an unflappable nature for one that is so young. He obviously has inbuilt character traits that give you the capacity to give away a penalty and then save it (as he did in Portugal).

Caoimhín is someone you can never underestimate. He played for me in the U21 team, played in ten of the 12 internationals. He was the one that played most for me. He is laconic, very laid back.

He nearly makes goalkeeping an art form, it's beautiful and aesthetically amazing to watch. I don't think I've ever said that about a goalkeeper. He is brilliant to watch and has such style and composure under pressure.

It's just a great position to be in. It's the kind of headaches that we want. I don't consider those problems, they are good problems.

Bazunu is likely to retain the no. 1 jersey for now, although Kenny admitted that he could rotate his goalkeepers in the two friendlies later this month.

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While the former Shamrock Rovers man is currently in pole position, the battle for this position is sure to go on for a number of years to come.

SEE ALSO: Jonathan Hill Confirms 'Nothing Has Changed' Regarding Robbie Keane Contract Situation


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