Caoimhin Kelleher has proven himself a worthy keeper for Liverpool

The Irishman has been impeccable in Alisson's absence.

Chelsea v Liverpool - Carabao Cup Final
Chelsea v Liverpool - Carabao Cup Final / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

Against the backdrop of Liverpool’s injury chaos, the only good news that most Kopites appreciate is that many youngsters have been able to step up to play big matches for the team this month after the team collected them from the Academy roster.

Meanwhile, it’s impossible for LFC fans to ignore the performance of Caoimhin Kelleher during the League Cup Final against Chelsea and overall in recent years.

For those who don’t know or remember Kelleher, he also started Liverpool's last League Cup Final in 2022, striking a bullet in the final round of the penalty shootout to send Chelsea home. This year, his sensational nine saves again bested the same opponent.

As we’ve witnessed plenty of stars born for Liverpool’s future, we have seen Kelleher ascend to the best No. 2 keeper in the world. Let’s dive into Kelleher’s path from the Academy to Senior Team, his characteristics and the recent breakout of big matches.

A Gemstone from Ireland

Honing his goalkeeping mode in Ringmahon Rangers (Cork, Ireland), Kelleher joined Liverpool Academy in 2015 and featured in the youth team matches regularly until 2019.

He didn’t obtain many opportunities to play with Senior teams, even though his name was put on the list for the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final against Tottenham Hotspurs. But as he had been picked up to the senior roster, more opportunities would come his way. 

His ability to keep clean sheets for the team enabled Alisson to take a rest from non-League matches. In December 2020, Kelleher made his debut in the Premier League after keeping an important clean sheet against Ajax in the Champions League five days earlier.

Later in the season, manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed his position as a second choice behind Alisson.

Despite the limited chances to showcase his abilities, Kelleher has become a trustworthy choice for Klopp to put in various matches as the need arose. In the 2022-23 League Cup’s third round against Derby County, Kelleher completed three saves in Liverpool's 3-2 penalty shootout win. Klopp praised his exceptional play in the post-game, saying that those three penalties were “all going in the corner”.

He doesn’t fail to live up to Klopp’s expectations, he has adapted well to the demands of playing for a top team like Liverpool, demonstrating his ability to step up in important moments.

This adaptability suggests he can handle the pressures associated with being a secondary goalkeeper while taking some pressures from Alisson.

A Shining Star In Front of the Net

Since Alisson has been ruled out due to a hamstring injury, Kelleher was forced to shoulder an increased responsibility to guard the net.

Reviewing his recent highlights, Kelleher contributed 2.95xG prevented in the League Cup Final on Sunday. During the three subsequent Premier League matches after Alisson’s injury was announced, he piled up 13 saves with only three goals allowed.

In the latest Southampton matchup in the fifth round of the FA Cup, Kelleher made sure of another clean sheet at the end with three saves to help the team advance.

Kelleher has shown strong technical goalkeeping skills, including excellent shot-stopping abilities, agility and reaction. His astonishing block sealed off the best chance for Chelsea in the League Cup Final as he denied the Blues time and again.

Kelleher also has shown a growing understanding of Liverpool's defensive unit and proficiency in organizing the defense.

Reversing the offense, he is capable of setting players up to initiate threatening attacks. Against Brentford, he produced 53.1% of launched passes in 42.5 average length, adding up to a 66.7% goal-kick launch rate. 

We can’t expect him to replicate the amazement of Alisson, but we can’t ignore his experience of high-stakes matches in the past, bringing him confidence and calm in clearing off dangers.

Additionally, his work ethic and consistency should be accredited, which raised him competitively as a young goalkeeper in the league.

Due to the uncertainty of the timetable of Alisson’s recovery, Kelleher is expected to be listed in the starting XI for a series of future matches. As Klopp said after Liverpool eliminated Southampton, Kelleher has got his rhythm.

With his goalkeeping dynamics and the desire for victories being cultivated, Kelleher has become a stalwart and a rock amidst the rocky waters in recent weeks.