Keano departs with a flick, a goal...and one last cartwheel
Published 01/09/2016 | 02:30
A flick, a volley, a cartwheel and pistols firing - an all-too familiar sight at the Aviva Stadium, but one we'll never get to witness again.
It was only ever going to be about Robbie Keane. But early on in the game, it looked as if another Robbie might overshadow our record goalscorer.
His namesake Brady spun in a free-kick less than 10 minutes in.
Given how the rest of the game seemed to go, it's a surprise Keano didn't get to take that himself. Despite manager Martin O'Neill insisting his team would be playing as normal, every pass and cross seemed to be aimed at getting the Tallaght man on the scoresheet.
He got there in sublime fashion, though, and it only took 27 minutes for the striker who's broken so many records to equal another - German Gerd Muller's 68 international goals.
He deserved it. His announcement alone must have sold 75pc of the tickets last night.
In fact, his beloved schoolboy club, Crumlin United, picked up 250 of the seats.
The club's Under 14 coach Larry Fox said: "We treated him like any other player, but it was obvious that he had something special from the first time he came down and he did some things in training that we never taught him and were certainly very natural."
The expectant crowd got the goal they wanted and surely enough gave him the send-off he wanted, as he was replaced in the 56th minute to raptures.
After the game, Keane admitted it's been a tough week for him - knowing he would only make one more appearance for Ireland.
"It's been obviously an emotional week for me and the family and all I can say is thank you very much to everyone for coming out and supporting me. It's been an absolutely wonderful 18 years, I've enjoyed every minute of it.
"I'm just delighted that the manager gave me the opportunity to say goodbye to the fans and all I can do is wish the lads good luck on Monday and going forward.
"I was a fan at 17 years of age making my debut and now I'll be in the stands watching this team going forward with a great management staff. I wish them well. I could feel the whole crowd, all the players and the management staff were desperate for me to score that one last time and I'm just delighted I got the goal."