Kelleher in line to start Wembley showdown against Chelsea

Stephen Reynolds

As the final whistle blew at the Emirates last Thursday, it was thought Liverpool’s Irish shot stopper, Caoimhín Kelleher, had played his last game in this year’s edition of the Carabao Cup. Despite his heroic performances in the competition, those who follow and are close to the club felt the reds’ number one, Alisson Becker, would start the Wembley showdown against Chelsea at the end of next month. 

That was until Jurgen Klopp confirmed in his press conference the following day that the 23 year old Cork native would be in between the sticks for the final. For Kelleher to get the nod ahead of arguably the world’s best keeper is an incredible sign of trust from the manager, who reiterated his faith in the young Irishman. “We consider Caoimhín as an outstanding goalie,  not a good goalie, an outstanding goalie and we want to keep him here.”

It’s been a steady rise through the ranks for Kelleher and, with the exploits of his compatriot Gavin Bazunu in recent times, his talent has gone under the radar. He joined Liverpool Football Club in 2015 from Ringmahon Rangers and featured regularly in the club’s youth sides. It wasn’t until the 2018/19 season that Kelleher would get his chance in Jurgen Klopp’s side when he featured in three friendly games in pre season. He would go on to pick up a Champions League medal as an unused substitute in the Final in Madrid where Liverpool ran out 2-0 victors over their English counterparts Tottenham Hotspur.

Kelleher would go on to feature in the league cup the following season where he made his competitive debut against MK Dons. He was the hero against Arsenal after he saved Dani Ceballos’ spotkick to ultimately put a young Liverpool side through to the next round. Despite not featuring in the league, he still picked up a medal as Liverpool coasted to their first title in 30 years. 

It wasn’t until December 2020 that Kelleher made his Champions League and Premier League debuts as he deputised for the injured Alisson for the games against Wolves and Ajax where he kept clean sheets in both games.

Kelleher would sign a new contract in the summer, keeping him at Anfield until 2026 and made his debut for the Republic of Ireland a few weeks prior, in a 0-0 draw against Hungary. The young Irishman would continue to shine in the Carabao Cup with Leicester City being the victims of his talent in the shootout in this season’s Quarter finals.

A start at Stamford Bridge capped off a successful 2021 with the player now keen to continue his good work in 2022.

Stephen Reynolds

Image Credit: The Mirror