Tuesday 6 December 2016

things we learned this weekend

Daniel McDonnell runs the rule over some encouraging performances from Ireland's stars

Published 22/08/2011 | 05:00

The Irish skipper was back to his cartwheeling best on Saturday evening, with a goalscoring start on his MLS bow for LA Galaxy against San Jose Earthquakes.

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The Earthquakes are one of the poorer sides in the MLS, so it would be harsh to judge the overall standard by this encounter, but it was all too easy for the Tallaght man.

In a match of limited intensity, San Jose seemed content to allow David Beckham roam like a quarterback and spray long balls over the top in the direction of Keane, who meandered to the position where he is most effective -- off the shoulder of the last man.

The Earthquakes had no real urgency to stop this situation from developing. Ireland's record goalscorer scored once from this method, missed another one-on-one and mistimed his run on a couple of other occasions when the chance was there.

If he was match-sharp and more than 48 hours in the country, he could have taken home the match ball.

At other times, the pace of the game dropped so much that Keane was able to float wherever he wanted, and the 31-year-old even took a throw-in near the halfway line to get the game restarted in a particularly redundant phase.

Keane enjoyed the adulation. But anyone arguing the merits of the MLS should ensure that the highlights of this are taped over.

SHANE LONG IS PREMIER CLASS

Meanwhile, in the football-speaking world, Long was furthering his education with a strong display against serious opposition at Stamford Bridge.

The Tipperary native capitalised on early hesitation from Alex to power through and open the scoring for West Brom, adding to last week's goal against Manchester United.

On the flip-side, he showed that he is not yet the finished article when he fluffed a relatively simple pass to Somen Tchoyi who would have put the visitors two up with better execution.

Nevertheless, with a hefty price tag on his head after a fine year in the Championship, Long (right) has kicked off with goals against a pair of title-chasing sides with star quality.

KEVIN DOYLE IS

READY FOR RUSSIA

Giovanni Trapattoni was sceptical about the Wolves striker's well-being after he pulled out of the recent friendly draw with Croatia.

The Italian expressed the opinion that Doyle was struggling to shake off the impact of the medial ligament issue that ended last season for him prematurely. He pointed to the psychological aspect as well as the physical element.

Mick McCarthy was none too impressed with that assessment, and his belief in Doyle's recovery seems to have been vindicated with the Wexford man skipping around Fulham defenders and confidently smashing home the strike which broke the deadlock at Molineux yesterday.

Good news for club and country.

More worrying was Stephen Hunt limping off with six minutes remaining.

SEAN ST LEDGER HAS JOINED A POTENTIAL BASKET CASE

Money is no guarantee of success, and St Ledger's new club Leicester City have made a bizarre start to the new campaign.

They led 2-0 at Nottingham Forest on Saturday only to ship two late goals to take just a point -- with a tantrum from Kasper Schmeichel resulting in the goalkeeper's dismissal after the first concession.

St Ledger watched the game from the bench. He was in the side for the midweek defeat to Bristol City, and with Sven Goran Eriksson looking to be unsure about what his best side actually is, St Ledger may have to get used to the chopping and changing.

ADAM ROONEY IS ON THE RISE

A prodigiously talented teenager who lost his way a bit, Adam Rooney (23) has seized another chance in England with the support of manager Chris Hughton at Birmingham City.

After showing admirable composure to tee up the winning goal for Keith Fahey last week, the Dubliner led the line at Middlesbrough and converted a first-half penalty which came from his own endeavour.

Boro responded to take the three points but, with Hughton in charge, there is evidence that Rooney will get an extended run in the team that could help to deliver on his potential.

Irish Independent

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