Fans in Poland lash Roy Keane over team criticism
IRELAND’S Euro2012 knock-out hangover was in full force in northern Poland today as fans lashed former captain Roy Keane for his post-match criticisms.
The manager-turned-pundit was criticised after he said it was not enough for supporters to go along for the sing-song every now and again.
While Keane said the green army was a credit to the country, he said both players and supporters had to change their mentality after we were beat 4-0 by Spain.
David Healy and Bernard Kelly from inner city Dublin angrily reacted to the comments as they packed up their campervan in a Sopot car park for a five hour trip to Poznan.
"I had a bit of respect for him, but the neck on him to say that," Healy said.
"We've all spent a lot of money to get here and for him to be sitting in a television studio getting big bucks while saying that."
The remarks reignited the notorious Saipan debate when Keane left the Ireland world cup campaign in 2002 after a fallout with then manager Mick McCarthy.
"I loved Roy but Saipan tarnished him a bit and now I just don't think he thinks about what he says," Kelly said.
Junior minister Michael Ring, who was at the Spain match, said the fans have been a credit to the country.
"The humour and high spirits shown by our fans is the talk of Poland this week. They have been magnificent ambassadors for Ireland, and have done a huge amount for our image abroad, not least in promoting Ireland as a great place to visit," he said.
Mr Ring said the rousing chorus of the Fields of Athenry from the 87th minute and long after the final whistle was enough to set spirits soaring.
"Above all, our fans had a lot of fun, and so did anyone lucky enough to meet them," he added.
Despite the early exit FAI boss John Delaney said the rendition of the song would be the abiding memory from the match.
On the beach in Sopot weary supporters looking for a cure at the seaview bars mulled over the controversy.
John McNulty, 29, from Achill island off Mayo sat with his Polish girlfriend of 18 months Mariola Ptak, 26, baffled at what Keane was getting at.
"The game was over so that was our blow out," he said.
"What did he want, no-one to sing, boo the players off the pitch? That would've been good for them all right. Fans have been saving money up all year so they deserve to pay tribute to the team."
"All we want is a goal against Italy, or I'll take a 6-0 win."
His friend from home James Kilbane, no relation to the player, was equally bemused.
"It's a strange old comment. I think he likes to be heard. He was probably upset about them being beat and it was straight after the game, maybe it was heat of the moment."
An exhausted looking Darren Kilbane, again no relation, wheeled a suitcase through the town plaza on his way home to London alone.
"It's not the proper thing to say but he probably has a point," he said.
"It was great craic here amongst the fans but the lads were completely outplayed. I think the Fields of Athenry was a consolation. Both Ireland games it has poured down so maybe God was trying to tell us something."
Meanwhile, Spanish fans praised the Irish support with Eduardo Jimenez, 27, from Avila near Madrid adding: "I appreciate the Irish supporter. I've never seen it before, the green army will never walk alone."
Speaking on ITV last night Roy lashed out at the Irish team following their 4-0 thrashing by Spain saying: "We’re a small country, we’re up against it, but let’s not just go along for the sing-song every now and again."
For many the talking point of the night was the Irish fans who belted out a spine tingling rendition of the Fields of Athenry in the closing minutes of the game.
He reacted to a post match interview with Keith Andrews who said: “You can hear the fans, they’re an absolute credit to their country and the team and unfortunately we haven’t been able to give them what they deserve.”
Keane retorted: “I think the players and even the supporters, they all have to change their mentality, it’s just nonsense from players speaking after the games about how great the supporters are.”
Irish fans were eager to get out of Gdansk as quickly as possible after last night's result.
The trains to Poznan - where Ireland take on Italy on Monday - were almost booked up, with standing room only.
And the campervans began to roll and the rental cars had all been taken.
"The Spanish, to see them was phenomenal," said Andrew Golding from Tallaght, waiting with son Ed for their flight back to Dublin - with a stopover in Frankfurt - yesterday. "And the singing at the end was brilliant."
Ed Golding said he couldn't take Roy Keane seriously anymore, since he kept making comments like that.
Others said the game marked the end of the Trapattoni era, as well as the twilight of the international careers of players like Damien Duff and Robbie Keane.
"It's the end of an era. I think Trapattoni has to move on, nothing against Trapattoni," said Davy Cusack (34) from Castlebar. "The supporters were great though, they just kept cheering them on."
Despite the disappointing result, over two million people tuned in to RTÉ to watch the 4-0 defeat last night, in figures released by the national broadcaster.
The match was the second most watched sports event in Ireland in 17 years, coming just behind the Republic of Ireland’s defeat to Croatia on Sunday.
The figures from RTE show that just under half a million people watched the game online.
The fans’ singing became the highlight of the match with some French and German commentary teams stopping talking for the final minutes of the game so viewers could listen to the singing.
Fabrice Muamba, the Bolton player who suffered a heart attack on the pitch earlier this year tweeted: ‘Credit to the Irish fans the way they support they team. It incredible.’
X Factor presenter Dermot O’Leary tweeted: ‘How about those fans? #athenry’ and Dara O Briain posted: ‘Terrible game; incredible rendition of "The Fields of Athenry". Quite moving in the end.’
Bridesmaids star Chris O’Dowd tweeted: ‘Hand on heart, how amazing is it hearing the Irish fans singing their balls out in the stadium? #proud’
However, Keane remained defiant: “To praise the supporters for the sake of it... Let’s change that attitude towards Irish supporters.”