Coach Conor gets call-up

Coach Conor gets call-up

7 April 2021

KILLYLEAGH goalkeeper Conor Brennan has been helping Northern Ireland’s U-19s in a training camp ahead of their Euro qualifiers later this year.

The Glasgow Rangers Academy goalkeeping coach was drafted into newly appointed manager Gerard Lyttle’s set-up after former Manchester United ‘keeper Roy Carroll was required for duties with the senior squad.

“Gerard gave me a ring to see if I could fly over from Scotland after Roy got the call up to help with the seniors,” he said.

“I spoke to Rangers as I obviously am firstly employed with them, but they were more than happy for me to move on over. There’s three lads in the international team who are also on Rangers U-18 set up so I could keep an eye on them as well.”

Brennan (27) who also plays for East Kilbride FC in Scotland’s Lowland Football League, joined the back room staff to help benefit the U-19 team after their Euro campaign was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The team was set to play three qualifiers in Sweden throughout March but those were cancelled. The camp was used ahead of the sides Euro 2022 qualifiers which take place in October.

“I was analysing what the team could do. A lot of stuff I was doing with them was 

very basic, such as handling and reflex drills. Some people may think that they should be the best in the country at their age but we are in the middle of a pandemic so its important to have that in your mind. 

“Not all of the team are getting the game time they need through no fault of their own.”

The recent camp lasted from Monday to Friday, with manager Lyttle drafting in fellow countryman and former Rangers defender Gareth McAuley alongside the Killyleagh custodian.

“Gareth’s experience and his calibre was great for the lads, they all grew up watching him play and now he’s looking ahead to mould the future” said Brennan.

“The U-19s are trying to get a few friendlies alongside a few training camps to keep busy. Gerard is trying to bring new players and staff together to see what the people are about. Having Gareth involved in the team is a no brainer.”

Brennan had the opportunity to work with promising young goalkeepers Conor Manderson from Portsmouth FC, and Dungannon Swifts’ Conner Bryne during the camp.

Northampton Town’s Dylan Berry had to withdrawal from the camp after being called up to his club’s senior team.

“The young ‘keepers are showing a lot of promise, this is why Gerard arranged the camp,” Brennan continued. We want them to develop into future senior team internationals and have them playing at the highest level possible.”

As for the Killyleagh man himself, Brennan highlighted his aspirations for both his own playing and coaching career.

“I want to continue to keep doing as I am doing. People forget because of my coaching that I am still a player. I still enjoy the feeling of getting out on the pitch and playing. I’m only 27, so if i play my cards right I could be playing for at least another ten years.” 

Scotland’s Lowland League recently made the decision to end this season on a points per game basis after discussions with the Scottish FA took place.

“I am disappointed that the season at East Kilbride ended. It was a real sickener as we were going to give it a right good go, but ultimately what can we do. The club has been brilliant for me and I definitely want to get back there next season.”

Brennan has gone from strength to strength with Rangers as he enters his fourth coaching season at the Glasgow club.

“Its going really well at my forth season at Rangers. In terms of my set up, I’m the U-18 goalkeeping coach and it’s a job I love doing and I’m passionate about it.

“I was the youngest in the UK to have my Uefa goalkeeping A licence, so that was a big help in attracting Rangers.

“I am currently completing my outfield Uefa A licence which will add another string to my bow and I eventually aim to have a Uefa pro A licence a few years down the line.”

Brennan has left his door open for any future offers to assist with the international squad, insisting he is happy to help in any way he can where possible.