Young midfielder reflects on Ireland under-18 call up and game against Luxembourg.
Southend United youngster Macauley Keating was delighted with the 'great experience' of representing the Republic of Ireland under-18s in Luxembourg at the end of May.
Keating was named in the under-18 squad for the first time to travel with the rest of the squad, and was pleased with how it went.
Keating played the second of two friendlies against the country, with the match finishing 0-0.
“I was quite surprised when I was called up to be honest,” the Blues midfielder said.
“I had a decent end to the season and heard they were watching me. I was really pleased when I received the call.
“I'd never been in the environment before, with it being my first call up. A lot of the players are in the Championship and Premier League. There were a couple from QPR, Swansea, Derby and Wolves, and it was great to mix with players at those sort of clubs.”
So how did the schedule go for the youngster, who is yet to make his debut for the Blues first team?
“I went over to Ireland and trained for a couple of days before playing in Luxembourg,” Keating says.
“It was a hard game and the pitch was poor. It was very hot over there and pretty gruelling. I ended up playing around 70 minutes in one of the games and really enjoyed it. I thought I played pretty well.
“I want to be selected again. One game towards the end of the year is against Portugal and then there will be a few friendlies. They're building up the European Qualifiers and it's around September or October time.”
Macauley has been with Blues permanently since the summer of 2013 after impressing on trial during the 2012-13 campaign and has been a regular ever since, having initially been with the Norwich City youth system.
And he is thankful for the support he's received from Southend and the Club staff since joining.
“The Club have definitely helped me in all aspects of my game, and especially mentally – which Ricky Duncan has helped me with immensely. Maybe a year or so ago I wouldn't have been able to cope with new surroundings, such as the Luxembourg trip.
“I'm really grateful for everything Ricky and the Club have done for me since I arrived.”