Mid September was a testing time for Manchester United’s senior string but it also saw the club offload one of their brightest youth prospects, goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara, to local non-league club Trafford FC.
As he was struggling to cement a place for United’s academy, 17-year-old O’Hara was sent out on loan to gain some much needed experience.
Trafford Football Club are newcomers to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, otherwise known as ‘The league FC United are in’. They got off to a shaky start but since the arrival of O’Hara, Trafford won four of their last six games which included a huge FA Cup upset against Altrincham.
The young stopper was born in Stretford and went on to join local junior side Urmston Town which is where he was scouted. United and Trafford have a good relationship with one another and the chance for O’Hara to prove to himself at his local non-league was a chance that he has taken with both hands.
In his debut, against Rushall Olympic, Kieran came up against former Football League front man Dele Adebola. Trafford were big underdogs for the game but they came out 3-1 winners with O’Hara impressing many on his debut for the club.
Then came the biggest game in Trafford Football Club’s history. A local derby in the FA Cup with Altrincham. There was huge pressure on the 17-year-old goalkeeper to perform under the spotlight and perform was exactly what he did.
Trafford went ahead early on but Altrincham soon equalised. Then just after the hour mark, Trafford took the lead. The last half an hour of that game was all Altrincham. Trafford’s defence stood tall but when the defence did eventually get exposed, O’Hara pulled off some match winning saves that wouldn’t look out of place down the road at Old Trafford.
It was that game that really made many realise what a talent this young man is.
For those that don’t pay attention to non-league football, the standard of football that Trafford play is around United’s Under 19s squads standard but is far more physical, as you are more likely to come up against big centre forwards who have no footballing talent at all apart from heading a ball. Controversial but most of the time quite true.
The physicality is where Kieran has excelled in. At just over six foot, O’Hara is a good height for a goalkeeper. That has been a big factor in helping him compete with the bigger, heavier lads from set pieces.
But while it is all good being physical, that will get you nowhere if you’re not brave. Kieran shocked a lot who thought he’d struggle to compete physically and mentally but they were wrong.
He put himself in situations where you’d put your mortgage on him being beaten but isn’t. He’s stood up and made himself big and made sure that he won’t let fellow players intimidate him. Nine times out of ten, he has claimed the ball with relative ease
Along with his superb shot stopping ability and his bravery, Kieran has fantastic distribution.
For a boy of just 17 years of age, his distribution from goal kicks has been near enough perfect. He sees chances to break that a lot of people on the pitch don’t see and when he sees the chance, he’ll release a pinpoint throw or a kick to start a counter.
Possessing all of these traits is one thing but using them to his advantage and showing is something else. From what he has shown at Trafford, fans can have every confidence that O’Hara has what it takes to be a future United #1.
His short loan spell with Trafford has now ended but after a couple of games for United’s academy side in the coming weeks, it is hoped that Kieran will return to Shawe View on loan once again and continue his marvellous development to potentially one day be a hit for club and country.