Andy Keogh – Scoring for fun in the sun

At 9am on a Sunday morning with the mercury already hitting 25 degrees, the last thing most Irish people would want to do is chase after a football.

However, Perth Glory and Republic of Ireland striker Andy Keogh is enjoying every minute of his new surroundings having moved to Australia earlier this year.

“It’s beautiful, I’m loving it,” he says. “It’s tough when it gets into the thirties but we train at the right times and we prepare well so it’s all good.”

 

The 28-year-old has made an instant impact at the club, netting 11 goals in the league and cup to date as Glory sit three points clear at the top of the A-League table.

There is also the small matter of the inaugural FFA Cup Final which takes place this Tuesday evening, presenting an opportunity for Keogh to pick up his first silverware since heading to the other side of the globe.

While Adelaide United, whose free-flowing football has won them many admirers this year, present a daunting prospect, Keogh has netted fives times already in the run to the final and will be hoping to add to his tally.

The Dubliner’s arrival in Perth has coincided with the club’s resurgence after they finished third from bottom last time out, only ahead of the Wellington Phoenix on goal difference.

In the 2013/14 regular season, Glory managed just 28 points from 27 games. This time round they’re sitting on 25 from their first ten fixtures, a full game clear of second place Melbourne Victory.

“It’s only ten games in but we’re in a great position,” says the former Leeds United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Scunthorpe United man, refusing to get carried away with the strong start.

“We’d be disappointed if we’re not there or thereabouts at the end of the season and obviously we want to win the cup on Tuesday. I think we’ll worry about that cup game then back to the league for the rest of the season.”

One of the biggest issues in Glory’s recent past has been getting goals – last season’s joint top scorers bagged four each – and Keogh, who has family in Perth, was seen as the solution to the problem when he became available after his contract ran out at English Championship side Millwall.

His acquisition was seen by many as a massive coup given his age, international experience (he has 30 caps for Ireland), and the fact that he could fit into the club’s salary cap of $2.55 million (1.7 million).

 

Having netted on his debut, a preseason friendly against Spanish side Malaga CF, Keogh continued to impress in the early rounds of the FFA Cup before transferring that early form to the league.

He was on target in Round 1 for Glory’s first goal of the season, then claimed a hat-trick in the home opener against Brisbane Roar, last season’s champions.

While he has often played in deep positions with his previous clubs, and Ireland, Keogh is the focal point of Glory’s attack and his workrate means that he can be used as a lone striker or as part of a duo.

“I don’t mind, as long as I play football I’m happy so I can’t complain at the minute,” he says when asked what role he prefers to have in the team.

“We’re winning, playing well, scored a few goals so happy days.”

The profile of the A-League has been raised in recent years with the influx of some big names, including Alessandro Del Piero, Shinji Ono, Emile Heskey, Harry Kewell, and, briefly, David Villa.

With Western Sydney Wanderers recently claiming the Asian Champions League title, the first Australian side to do so, the reputation of the league globally has been given a massive shot in the arm.

Keogh believes that the foundations are in place for the competition to continue its growth, and he has been very impressed with the quality of his team mates, some of whom have made Australia’s provisional 46-man squad for next month’s Asian Cup.

“It’s very good, it’s very technical, very fit players,” he says. “The set up is there and I think league can get bigger and bigger, and I think it will attract better and better players so it’s only going to get stronger.”

 

One of the most difficult aspects of being a Perth Glory player is the amount of travel that needs to be done over the course of a nine month season; the away trip to Wellington (5000+ kilometres) is the furthest between two teams in the same league in any top flight around the world.

As well as that, the bi-weekly four to five hour flights to the eastern states of Australia also present their challenges, but Keogh is taking it all in his stride and believes that enough measures are in place to reduce the impact on the players.

“We do it all properly, professionally, we’re given the proper time to recover,” he says.

“Sometimes the body may feel it the day after but that’s what we worked so hard in preseason for – to make sure we’re conditioned enough to be able to deal with this.”

There’s no escaping the travel over the Christmas period though as Glory face two tricky away games against Melbourne City on 26 December and Melbourne Victory on 2 January.

It’s all part of the A-League experience for Keogh and he won’t let it get in the way of enjoying the festivities in a completely different climate to the one he’s used to.

“[We] might go down to the beach for a bit but we fly on Christmas Day to Melbourne so we might do Christmas Eve, have a dinner or something,” he says.

Perth Glory supporters will be hoping for the gift of more points on the board, as well as a trophy in the cabinet, over the next couple of weeks, and if Keogh can continue to shine then they may just get their wish.

The FFA Cup Final is live in Ireland and the UK on BT Sport 1 on Tuesday, 16 December (kick off – 8:30am).

Author Details

Neil Sherwin

Co-editor of BackPageFootball.com. Writes mostly on Premier League and A-League with contributions to other sites including TheFootballSack, InBedWithMaradona and Bloomberg's BSports. Has featured on The Guardian's Football Weekly.

One thought on “Andy Keogh – Scoring for fun in the sun

  1. I believe Perth-Wellington is the second longest away trip in world football, second to west Russian clubs travelling to Luch-Energiya Vladivostok in the country’s far east…

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