HIS boss has made it clear to gifted youngster Davis Keillor-Dunn that it will take hard graft to ensure last Saturday’s memorable debut leads to sustained first team involvement.
The Sunderland-born left winger, a development squad title-winner with County last season, lit up Victoria Park on his home debut and first competitive start against Partick Thistle.
Displaying deft touches, energy, intelligent movement and a dangerous cross, Keillor-Dunn had the home crowd off their seats on more than a few occasions during his man-of-the-match performance.
There is no doubting the 19-year-old’s natural ability and promise or the confidence coursing through the youngster’s veins. In an interview after the Partick Thistle draw Keillor-Dunn was bold enough to mention Scotland under-21 ambitions.
None of that should be taken as a sign of arrogance though – the likeable lad’s self-belief and light humour was infectious and like a breath of fresh air.
What McIntyre shed light on this week was just how much hard work has already gone towards honing Keillor-Dunn’s undoubted talent for the harsh demands of top-flight football.
The County manager said: “If I’m honest he was proving a bit of a quandary to us halfway through last season. You could see the outstanding ability but he wasn’t playing his position very well.
“However I’ve got to say coach Stuart Kettlewell has done fantastically well in encouraging him to play the team position rather than running all over the park just because he is a good player. The discipline side of his game has certainly come together over the past six months.
“Going into the SPFL level he shows he has belief in his own ability, but it is important that he just continues to learn and keeps listening. If he can do that he’ll be very effective.
“He has a confidence in his own ability and I think everybody has to have a certain degree of arrogance as a player, as long as that is channelled in the right way.”
McIntyre expressed gratitude for the way the County support remained patient and roared on the team right through to Alex Schalk’s late, but deserved, equaliser from the penalty spot on Saturday.
Often supporters show greater patience and restraint when younger players are involved and perhaps Keillor-Dunn’s endeavours altered the mood of a sometimes overly critical home crowd.
Certainly it rated as one of the best first bows this observer can recall in 20 years of covering County matches – particularly from a younger performer.
He revealed his grandfather, Marshall Keillor, was a Scot originally from Dundee, making him eligible to play for his adopted nation at some time in the future.
Keillor-Dunn said: “The only target for me is first-team football at this club and, hopefully, as my grandad is Scottish, to play for the Scotland under-21s.
“My grandad went from Dundee to Sunderland for work. He’d love to see me play for Scotland.
“It would be a massive achievement and I’d love to do it sometime in the future.”
The apparent lack of nerves in his performance was no act, Keillor-Dunn said.
“Every time I get the ball I look to do something – set up a goal or try to get one for myself.
“So there’s a bit of natural confidence there, but the experiences of last season help as well. Winning the development league was brilliant.
“We had a great group of lads who did so well, getting great results and achieving something never heard of.
“Goals and assists for me are massive. I just want to get points on the board and get Ross County up the table.”