Thursday 8 December 2016

Roy Keane's tunnel stare down with Vieira - Ten great Irish Premier League moments

Published 07/08/2015 | 02:30

Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira clash
Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira clash
Rory Delap became famous, or infamous, for terrorising Stoke City's rivals with his long throw-ins
Robbie Keane sealed the win for Coventry in their 1999 match against Arsenal
James McClean's career began to take off in 2012
Gareth Farrelly's stay at Everton was brief but memorable

While Irish participation in the top flight has dwindled in recent years but there are still a host of dramatic memories to look back on with pride.

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Roy Keane stares down Patrick Vieira in the Highbury tunnel in 2005

There are so many tremendous Keane moments to choose from, with an array of commanding displays that led to seven league title wins. Yet strangely enough, the one image that sticks in the mind is his tunnel confrontation with Patrick Vieira in a season where neither party ended up getting their hands on the trophy. The Corkman was actually approaching the end of the road but he stuck up for Gary Neville, admonished Vieira and went on to inspire United to a 4-2 win. It demonstrated the attributes that had made Keane so successful in his younger days.

Paul McGrath wins PFA Player of the Year in 1993

Just three Irishmen have been voted as the season's best player by their peers in the PFA. Liam Brady in 1979, Roy Keane in 2000 and McGrath in 1993. It's harder for a defender to attain that honour - John Terry is the only other rearguard operator to do so in the Premier League era. McGrath collected the gong in the first year of the Sky-driven rebrand, belying his advancing years to help Aston Villa challenge for top honours. Given his off-the-pitch demons, his consistency was remarkable.

John O'Shea's goal for Manchester United at Anfield in 2007

The Waterford man has a substantial medal collection, even if he didn't always play a central part in every success. In 2007, however, he left his mark on the title race with a famous goal at Anfield that is fondly remembered by Manchester United supporters. It was looking glum for Alex Ferguson's side when Paul Scholes was sent off with four minutes remaining as the game was tightly poised at 0-0. But there was another twist as O'Shea wandered forward to find himself in the right place during a goalmouth scramble and fire the ball into the roof of Pepe Reina's net. A last minute winner at the home of your biggest rivals? He's entitled to search for that one on YouTube from time to time.

Niall Quinn's winner for Sunderland at Newcastle in 2000

Quinn was 34 when he cemented his place in Black Cats folklore by rising to greet a superb Michael Gray cross with a powerful and accurate header that settled the North East derby at St James' Park. It was a happy time for the Dubliner who found new life in his legs in Sunderland, striking up a formidable partnership with Kevin Phillips that thrived under Peter Reid and provided the bridge to prolong his international career until the 2002 World Cup. The bond he developed with the Sunderland fans led to him sticking around and serving time as chairman.

Damien Duff wins a Premier League medal in 2005

Only a special brand of curmudgeon could dislike Shamrock Rovers' new recruit. Since he burst onto our screens with the Irish U-20 side in Malaysia under Brian Kerr, it has been easy to warm to a gifted talent with a distinctly low-maintenance attitude. That's why it was sweet that he eventually graduated to a Chelsea side that made the breakthrough under Jose Mourinho to end their league wait in 2005. The Duff/Arjen Robben axis was a major part of their weaponry. Regrettably, it was the high point of a Chelsea existence that he cut short to depart for Newcastle. Not the best move.

James McClean's breakthrough in 2012

We all got a bit excited about McClean in the early months of 2012. It was understandable, really. In an era where there's a dearth of Irishmen at top Premier League clubs and an acceptance that the range of nationalities flocking to English shores will make the path to that company even more difficult, here was a young lad ripping up convention and giving inspiration to every late developer. Less than a year after he was raiding League of Ireland flanks, McClean was terrorising established defenders and a weekly talking point. His first start for Sunderland, in a shock win over Manchester City on New Year's Day, set the tone for a meteoric rise.

Rory Delap's throw goes viral in 2008

For this entry, there is no one game that stands out. It was more a period following Stoke's arrival to the big league in 2008 when Rory Delap was propelled from a hard- working low-profile performer to headline news on account of his freakish ability to rain throws into the opposite area with more power and pace than a corner kick. He admitted himself that it was 'undefendable' as opposition managers didn't quite know how to react. David Moyes referred to it as a "human sling" after a pair of Delap assists made Everton endure a torrid afternoon. Delap enjoyed the attention at first but had to draw the line somewhere: when a PR company asked him to throw a Christmas pudding over a double-decker bus he politely refused.

Gareth Farrelly keeps Everton up in 1998

The midfielder only scored twice in a brief stay at Goodison Park and Everton fans would struggle to remember one of those efforts. It's safe to say that the other will ensure that Farrelly's name always rings a bell. His right footer against Coventry eventually proved enough to keep Everton away from the trapdoor and it guaranteed him a warm welcome on future visits. He's back living in that neck of the woods as his ill-fated player/management experience at Bohs turned him off life in the dugout and acted as a catalyst to gain knowledge in another field. Farrelly is now a Liverpool-based trainee lawyer.

Jason McAteer stars in Liverpool v Newcastle in 1996

Seeing as it's widely recognised as the greatest Premier League match of all-time, it's only fair to claim an Irish angle. To be fair to Jason McAteer, it's unlikely that he will ever be remembered as a Liverpool great, but he did make a crucial contribution to their amazing comeback to beat the free-spirited Newcastle by a 4-3 scoreline. After marauding down the right flank throughout, he delivered the perfect cross to tee up Stan Collymore for the equaliser that preceded his dramatic winner. Of course, McAteer's other contender was his 'writing a book' gesture to Roy Keane when Sunderland and Manchester United clashed in the aftermath of Saipan.

Teenage Robbie Keane downs Arsenal in 1999

It was St Stephen's Day 1999. Arsenal came to Highfield Road with Henry, Overmars and a host of household names yet they went home on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline. In vaunted company, the key touch was provided by a young lad from Tallaght who was demonstrating in his first top flight campaign that he was here to stay. His dexterous flick past David Seaman sealed the points and Inter Milan took notice. He enjoyed higher profile days at bigger clubs when he came back from Italy, but the confirmation that he had arrived stands out.

Irish Independent

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