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Ireland U21 striker Aidan Keena signs two-year deal to return to Scotland

Keena has left Hartlepool United to join Falkirk, having previously played in Scotland for Hearts.

Keena was unveiled by Falkirk this morning.
Keena was unveiled by Falkirk this morning.
Image: Falkirk FC

AIDAN KEENA’S DEPARTURE from Hartlepool United has been confirmed, with the striker returning for a second spell in Scotland.

This morning, Falkirk announced the signing of the Republic of Ireland U21 international on a two-year deal.

Undisclosed transfer terms have been agreed to bring Keena – who had a year to run on his Hartlepool contract – to Falkirk.

Last week, Hartlepool manager Dave Challinor revealed that he was willing to allow the 21-year-old return to Scotland despite having him in his plans for the forthcoming season.

Challinor was compassionate in his approach to Keena’s situation, as the Westmeath native and his partner, who’s from Scotland, are expecting their first child.

“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,” Challinor explained.

“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.”

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

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Prior to joining Hartlepool in January, he 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.

Keena will 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.

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. 

“We are really, really pleased to secure the signature of Aidan,” said Falkirk co-manager Lee Miller. “We have tracked him since we came into the club and we were actually interested in bringing him in during the January window. That didn’t materialise, but when the opportunity came up this time round we were determined not to miss out.

“Aidan’s a great type with natural ability and at the age of 21 we feel we can continue to improve him too.”

A 27-game season is due to begin for Falkirk on 17 October.

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Paul Dollery

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