Academy column'Caoimhin is ice-cool, I wasn't surprised at Wembley heroics'
In our latest Academy column, U21s goalkeeping coach Mark Morris reflects on 2022 and a moment he will never forget with Caoimhin Kelleher's heroics in the Carabao Cup final.
When I look back on 2022 from an Academy coach’s perspective then I can’t look any further than Wembley back in February.
It didn’t surprise me one bit, I have to say, because Caoimhin is that calm. He is the calmest man in the world, nothing seems to faze him, his veins are full of ice, I’m sure they are!
We have a fantastic first-team goalkeeping department with John Achterberg, Jack Robinson and Claudio Taffarel.
They always send us messages about how it’s been a team effort and the work that has gone in to pass him up through the system.
At Academy level, myself, Taff [Neil Edwards] and Bavo [Ian Dunbavin] were all speaking to each other as the final was going on. We could not be prouder and it couldn’t have gone any better.
Caoimhin scored the winning penalty, he made some great saves during the game and it was just such a special moment for him, his family, all of us.
He is deceptively quick when he comes off his line and he is like Ali [Alisson Becker] in that sense.
Penalties are a forte, to be honest, for him. He has a heck of a reach on him, we saw that again in the cup this season against Derby County.
He played under Pep Lijnders when he was the U16 manager and I remember him saying how much he liked him. From day one, Pep really backed him.
During the first team’s recent trip to Dubai it was absolutely fantastic seeing so many of the Academy lads involved.
We had two of our young goalkeepers out there with Caoimhin and Adrian, in Harvey Davies and Fabian Mrozek.
To be fair, Harvey and Fab came back in a week early to do some extra training. I took them for a week to get them ready to go out there so they could train at that level and intensity.
They have acquitted themselves really well and, ultimately, my job along with Taff and Bavo is to make sure that they don’t come back to us. We are part of a team and our job is to send them up to the first team and not see them again.
It’s quite funny actually as John [Achterberg] and myself joined the club on the same day 14 years ago. Xavi Valero brought us in. John was with the U23s and I started with the U18s, and within 12 months John had bounced up to assist and then take the role with the first team.
Me and John worked very closely together and we were doing 70/80-hour weeks at first, looking after all of the young goalkeepers at all age levels. Both of us got us through that year and he has always been a fantastic support.
We then brought Taff in, who has done a brilliant job with the U18s, and Bavo as well to work with the U16s. Our ultimate ambition, and me and John said that from day one, is to get a goalkeeper through the system and we’ve done that with Caoimhin.
We also look after all of our goalkeepers and if they can’t make it at Liverpool, because ultimately that is an extremely tough ask when we’ve got the best goalkeeper in the world in Alisson, we want them to have good careers in the game.
I always keep a lookout for the boys who have come through our system and they continue to do themselves proud.
Wardy [Danny Ward] is doing well with Leicester City and Wales, Shamal George is doing extremely well up in Scotland now with Livingston, Kamil Grabara at FC Copenhagen, Firthy [Andy Firth] went up to Rangers and did a really good job behind the scenes there under Steven Gerrard, and is now doing well at Connah’s Quay Nomads FC.
It’s great to see Dan Atherton is doing well for himself [Hyde United], Ryan Fulton [Hamilton Academical], Yusuf Mersin [Maidstone United], Lawrence Vigouroux is flying with Leyton Orient.
If you look around the Premier League it’s difficult for a young goalkeeper as there’s not that many that have come through a club’s youth system and gone straight into their first team.
Young goalkeepers have to learn the game and that’s why we try to get them out on loan so they can get out and see what it’s like.
Obviously we have Marcelo Pitaluga, who is having a great season on loan at Macclesfield, Vitezslav Jaros has done extremely well at Stockport County.
Kuba [Jakub Ojrzynski] is not getting as much game time as we’d like him to get at Polish side Radomiak Radom but it is a bit of an experience for him being a No.2 and battling for his position.
We are also looking at the possibility of a loan for our Irish stopper Liam Hughes when the window opens so he can get out and get some more experience, so we’ll see what happens with that.
Mark Morris was speaking to Liverpoolfc.com's Steve Hunter.