All footballers up north deserve it for having to put up with additional occupational risks in the form of bent bigotted referees, but that’s not the type of hazard pay Im writing about today.
The news that we will tie down our new keeper long term and on much improved terms is music to my ears.
Not only is he a fellow Ulsterman, a very fertile breeding ground with regards to Glasgow Celtic, but he has the raw ingredients to go far in the game.
For starters at 6’6” he has the right size for a keeper, at 22 he has the world at his feet, plus he has displayed a tendency to be vocal and brave in his box, something so very missing under our Greek keeper.
Although hard to miss I must tip my hat to whoever discovered and initially signed the bhoy, and now Stevie Woods has a proper challenge on his hands.
His task is not only to turn this kid into our long term keeper, but to ensure he fulfills his potential.
Neil and Stevie did one hell of a job on big Lurch in this regard, stated by Lenny to be one of his biggest achievements. They took him from Newcastle reserves to being the England keeper, which all can rightly be proud of, so no wonder it hurt getting turned down for a subs bench.
The challenge is to repeat that with Conor now, but then keep him once matured. Northern Ireland is far from blessed with great keepers, and I dont rate the Republics that highly either. Being number one at Celtic would more or less guarantee he is selected for one of the national team’s, he has chosen the right team in that respect.
Considering he broke through younger than Frazer, is an actual Celtic fan, and stands just an inch smaller than Lurch, the potential is clearly there to surpass the Englishman. In fact at his age in possession of the jersey, there’s not many goalie records he couldn’t smash with us given time. And time being on his side, plus being young enough to eradicate the flaws, it really is no exaggeration stating he could make that jersey his for the next decade. That should be his aim.
However, much credit must go to Lenny for actually throwing him in between the sticks. Unlike KT and David Marshall, there was no shortage of available bodies, just a shortage of competency. Its nice to stumble upon someone sure, but that points to a blindness to potential.
In deciding to forget the pricetag and experience under the belt of not one but two others in order to give Conor the nod, Neil took a very brave decision that could well have backfired. The fact he wasn’t forced into this decision, but felt strong enough to make the call and follow his heart bodes well for us all.
At a mere 22 years young, this weekend offers the opportunity of a dream start to his Celtic career. To not only break into the team, to not only sign a new bumper contract, but to start collecting winners medals all in the space of one month, why that would be very very special indeed. Can’t think of a better start to be honest, hopefully cementing a lifelong love affair.
As you can probably tell, I would start him.
And tell him go break Hearts Conor.