Goalkeeper hoping to resurrect career after answering Raith SOS

Conor Brennan was handed an instant Raith debut in the 2-2 draw with Dundee United at Tannadice on Saturday.  Copyright - Fife Photo Agency
Conor Brennan was handed an instant Raith debut in the 2-2 draw with Dundee United at Tannadice on Saturday. Copyright - Fife Photo Agency

Conor Brennan has revealed that the SOS call from Raith Rovers boss Gary Locke spared him from considering a career outside football.

The 22-year-old goalkeeper has spent the summer looking for a new club after claiming that he was ditched by Kilmarnock at the end of the season despite agreeing terms on a new contract offer.

The Northern Ireland U21 was still without a club last week, so he was relieved to receive the call from his former Rugby Park boss with the offer of a short term deal at Stark’s Park until January.

Brennan told the Press: “I was at Kilmarnock for three years and Lee Clark offered me a new contract in March, we agreed terms, but before I signed it I was told that they didn’t need me for next season.

“That was after the play-offs so it left me going into the summer without having a job. It was a hard three months driving up and down the country, going all over the place to try to get a club.

“My girlfriend is from Scotland as well so I didn’t really get to see her that much.

“It was pretty stressful and there were sleepless nights wondering about what you are going to do if you don’t play football. Do you take another route or try to stay in the game as long as you can?

“It gave me a wee wake up call, but I was quite confident, and I just kept my belief that hopefully the phone would ring, and thankfullyit did.

“I know the gaffer here from Kilmarnock, so he knows what he’s going to get from me.”

Injuries to both Kevin Cuthbert and Aaron Lennox meant Rovers had to move for Brennan who was forced to make an instant debut in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Tannadice.

“It all happened a bit quick,” he revealed.

“I was down in Manchester waiting to hear back from a club down there, when the gaffer got in touch with me.

“He was quite keen to get me up, we came to an agreement on Wednesday night, and he wanted to get me in training on Thursday morning.

“It meant a 5.00 am start driving up the road. I got in for half nine, met all the boys, trained on Thursday and Friday, then that was me ready to go on Saturday.”

Brennan admitted that he was still unsure of the names of most of his team mates when he took to the field against Dundee United.

“I didn’t know all the names so I just called the number on the back and they were all happy enough with that,” he said.

“As the weeks go on I will get to know them more personally.

“That was my first proper game since April, but Gary trusts me and knows what I can do so he was happy to throw me in.

“It’s been a hard three months for me but it just shows if you keep sticking at it, with a bit of luck, something will come up.”

His move to Raith has meant that Brennan has had to withdraw from the Northern Ireland U21 squad for the European Champioship qualifers against Iceland and Macedonia this week as he will be required for the Irn-Bru Cup tie against Forfar.

“Although I’m 22 now, if you start the campaign when you’re under 21, you can finish it,” he said. “I’ve played in all in the games so far but unfortunately the Scottish Championship doesn’t have an international break, and we play Forfar on Saturday, so I had to ring the U21 manager, Jim Magilton, and explain the siutuation. It was a hard decision, but I feel it’s best if I try to play games for my club.

“I still want to play international football as long as I can in my career.

‘‘You just have to look at Michael McGovern to see what the international stage can do for you.

“But in the long term, to play for your country you have to perform for your club, and I can’t do that if I don’t have a club.

“So for the meantime, I think it was best to stick with Raith on Saturday and go from there.”

Brennan is now hoping to use the opportunity given to him by the injuries to Cuthbert and Lennox to stake a claim to be the first choice ‘keeper at Stark’s Park.

“That’s the plan,” he said. “The manager has said to me to give him a problem when the injured guys are back.

“We’ve got three good goalkeepers and it will be interesting when all of us are fit.

“At the minute I’ve just got to take it one game at a time, and do what’s best for me, and best for the team.”