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Hereford United's Josh O'Keefe enjoying life at Edgar Street
10:00am Thursday 21st February 2013 in Sport
HEREFORD United’s club captain Luke Graham is also training to be a journalist. He has been speaking with his team-mate Josh O’Keefe.
AFTER more than a year of mixed fortunes, Hereford United midfielder Josh O’Keefe is just happy to be playing football regularly again.
With a return of five goals in 18 appearances since his arrival in September, it’s easy to see why.
“It’s the happiest I’ve been since I dropped out of the football league over 18 months ago,” said O’Keefe.
“From my debut away at Mansfield, I settled in quickly and had a good feeling straight away.
“There’s no pressure from the management and they encourage you to play with freedom.
“We have a great team spirit too and I think that showed in the FA Cup run.
“I’m relishing each game and am playing with a smile on my face again.”
It was a long summer for O’Keefe, who had played for Lincoln City, before leaving Southport at the end of last season after a brief stint.
“Last year was a tough one for me, Lincoln had to restructure their budget after relegation,” he admitted.
“Four of us were deemed to be on Football League contracts, so we parted ways mid-season. Southport was a quick solution to give me games and fitness near the end of the season yet I always wanted full-time football.
“So I decided to take up a few trials at Football League clubs at the start of this season, but it left me in limbo in the end.”
The former Blackburn Rovers man finally got some good news in September, receiving three offers during a day.
“It was a crazy day,” exclaimed O’Keefe.
“Hyde and Kidderminster had been on the phone earlier in the day, I was very close to signing for Kidderminster.
“Then Martin Foyle gave me a call and I liked what he had to say.
“He swung my decision and I’m glad he did now.”
The capture of O’Keefe has proved a shrewd signing by Foyle so far and he has an uncanny knack of scoring at crucial moments of games.
Joining Blackburn Rovers at 12 years old, O’Keefe spent eight years at Ewood Park, where he honed his goalscoring talents.
“I’ve always been attack minded and I actually started out as a striker, he said.
“Under Mark Hughes, my reserve manager Glynn Hodges always encouraged me to break into the box from midfield.
“Timing of runs and movement has become an important part of my game now.
“It certainly paid off as I ended up as the Academy and reserve top goalscorer during my time there.”
His goals at Blackburn came to the attention of Rep of Ireland u21s and O’Keefe experienced a taste of International football.
“It was a great experience for me. I got called up with my team-mate Keith Tracey at the time.
“It was away at Austria and Don Givens decided to put me on at half-time.
“I was naturally nervous yet managed to play my normal game and came close to scoring.
“Seamus Coleman was our best player on the night and he hasn’t done too badly at Everton has he?!”
The 24-year-old insists there is more to come from him, despite his impressive contribution so far this season.
He also acknowledges, with only one player contracted for next season, players have plenty to play for in the remaining games of the season.
“I’ve had a good start. Yet there are still 18 games to impress the gaffer in.
“I’m happy with my goals return yet I’m looking to improve my performance levels every game.
“I want to help us push more towards the play-off positions and keep enjoying it as much as I am now.”
O’Keefe added: “I’d be more than happy to stay here next season.”