Friday, January 28, 2011

Ritchie Branagan following in his father's footsteps

Ritchie Branagan is not only following in his father's footsteps by carving out a career as a professional goalkeeper, but his first call-up to the Ireland Under-21 squad follows the career path of his father Keith, who represented Ireland in goal in 1997.

Ireland Under-21 manager Noel King announced a 19 man squad, including Branagan, for the upcoming U21 International friendly against Cyprus, which will take place on Wednesday, February 9 at the GSZ Stadium in Larnaca.

19 year-old Branagan ‘Junior ‘ caught the eye of the FAI after breaking into the Bury starting eleven in November last year when he made his Football League debut.

And while the Ritchie and Keith Branagan story may draw comparisons with the goalkeeping father and son pairing of Peter and Kasper Schmeichel or the other Irish father and son pairing of Denis and Liam Irwin, the young keeper is determined to carve out his own successful career and wants to be talked about for his own exploits as he plots a path to the top.

Speaking about his Father Keith, Ritchie said : “He has been there for me throughout my scholarship and he does give me advice.

“I have got natural shot-stopping ability, like my dad, but I have a lot to work on. I am only 18 and I just want to progress so that when I get my chance I am ready.”

Keith Branagan, spent his most successful years at Bolton Wanderers where he experienced three promotions, played two seasons in the Premier League and played at Wembley in the 1995 League Cup final. Injury forced his retirement in 2002 while playing for Ipswich but he was lucky enough to earn one senior Irish international cap for Ireland when he played against Wales in a competitive friendly in Cardiff in 1997.

Only time will tell if Ritchie Branagan progresses to Irish senior international level and pulls on the No.1 shirt, just as his father once did.