Keohane proves that patience does pay with his opportunity at Exeter
When a new player comes to a club, the norm is to see them wearing the first-team shirt fairly soon. But Jimmy Keohane was no ordinary signing.
After joining Exeter City following his release from Bristol City in the summer of 2011, Keohane made six appearances as a substitute when the Grecians were plagued by injuries. But on Tuesday – and with Exeter again contending with a number of absentees – the young Irishman was finally handed his first start in the npower League Two clash with Wycombe Wanderers.
It was one that the 21-year-old took with both hands as his hat-trick of assists helped Exeter to a rousing 3-2 victory at St James' Park.
"I am quite happy with the way I played," the former Wessex United youngster said. "It was good to get the win and the three points, that is the main thing, but I hope I made enough of an impression to get more minutes this season and maybe get a run in the team. That is what I am hoping for, anyway.
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"I have been on the bench for a lot of the time this season and I was hoping to get the chance to make an impression and do well for the team. We want to keep the winning streak going, that is the main thing.
"I was happy with the three assists and I was hoping to grab a goal myself, but making goals for the team is just as good as scoring them."
If anyone deserves to make it in the professional game, then it is Keohane. What fans do not see is his insatiable appetite for the game and dedication in training. When the media turn up for their weekly briefings on Thursdays, Keohane is always seen practising his shooting or free-kicks with the Exeter coaching staff long after many of his team-mates have headed for home.
"You just have to give your best all the time and give it your all," he said, sending the perfect message to any aspiring youngster. "When I came over here [from Ireland], I knew that, if I didn't give it my best shot and work hard, I may come to regret it down the line.
"It is all about improving my game. I am still young and, if I get a chance, I believe that you have to take it and make an impression and stay in the team.
"When I left Bristol City, I just thought I had to keep my head up and saw it as a minor setback, really. Then I came to Exeter and I wanted to keep improving and going in the right direction."
Keohane is certainly doing that. He caught the eye on his full debut – as he has in many of his seven substitute appearances so far, but, having had to wait so long for his maiden start, surely there is a frustration at the lack of first-team exposure?
"A lot of it is patience, really, especially when you are a young player," Keohane said. "You can't get frustrated and, when you get a chance, you have to impress.
"I just have to keep doing that, because it is all I can do. I don't pick the team, Paul [Tisdale] does that, so I just want to keep making an impression. That is the main thing for me."
Exeter travel to Southend United tomorrow looking to build on three straight away wins and that midweek success against the Chairboys. Whether Keohane starts remains to be seen, but he has certainly given Tisdale food for thought, with players slowly returning from injury.