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Dublin: 11°C Tuesday 18 May 2021

Ireland U21 striker Aidan Keena returning to Scotland for personal reasons

The Westmeath man has been at Hartlepool United since parting company with Hearts in January.

Aidan Keena pictured after completing his move to Hartlepool United back in January.
Aidan Keena pictured after completing his move to Hartlepool United back in January.
Image: Hartlepool United FC

AIDAN KEENA IS to make an early exit from Hartlepool United in order to return to Scotland.

Keena is contracted to the English National League side for next season, having joined the club from Scottish outfit Hearts in January.

However, Hartlepool manager Dave Challinor revealed today that the Republic of Ireland U21 international will be allowed to leave to sign for Falkirk.

Challinor has been empathetic with regards to the personal circumstances of the 21-year-old striker, who is expecting his first child with his partner later this year.

“Aidan came here in January and all things being equal he was still in our plans and would have been with us,” Challinor told the Hartlepool Mail.

“His girlfriend is pregnant and due to give birth in October, and she’s obviously young – as Aidan is – and from Scotland. He’d been back up in Glasgow during the lockdown and it was always going to be a tough one so I spoke to Aidan pretty much straight away over the summer.

“It just fits better for him to be back up there for his first child, and a girlfriend who was obviously a long way from home and no family support – it was always going to be difficult.

“I’ve been there myself and lots of the players have, so it’s a time in his life and his career where he needs to be happy and things need to work for him, so all things being sorted he’ll go back up there with our best wishes.”

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Keena scored twice in the four starts and four substitute appearances he made for Hartlepool before the season was brought to a premature conclusion by the Covid-19 pandemic in March.

Prior to joining Hartlepool, the Westmeath native made 17 first-team appearances for Hearts after moving to the club from St Patrick’s Athletic in 2017. He also enjoyed productive loan spells at Dunfermline Athletic and Queen’s Park.

He’ll link up with former Ireland senior international Conor Sammon at Falkirk, who narrowly missed out on promotion to the Scottish Championship when the season ended early. With a points-per-game average that was superior by 0.03, Raith Rovers went up as League One champions instead.

Challinor added: “He [Keena] could go up there and absolutely burn it up and it’s not like he’s left on bad terms by any means. We’ve just made a decision to look after his best interests at this point.

“Hopefully he goes up there and everything is good and works out with his child and he scores a lot of goals for Falkirk and we see where we go. Sometimes football has to take a back seat to family logistics and how it’s going to work.”

Keena broke into the Ireland U21 squad in 2019, earning his first caps under Stephen Kenny by coming off the bench as a late replacement for Adam Idah in the European Championship qualifying wins against Armenia and Sweden in November.

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Paul Dollery

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