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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Louis Jacob: Get a life, Roy, Irish fans love to be 12th man

Keane's criticism of the Green Army for singing with gusto to support their team is all wrong, writes Louis Jacob

Louis Jacob

And so it was Roy Keane grabbing all the headlines for all the wrong reasons once again.

In Gdansk last Thursday night, with the Ireland team very much humbled, 4-0 down to a vastly superior Spanish team, the Irish fans launched themselves into a 20-minute-long rendition of the Fields of Athenry.

For anyone with a heart beating in their chests, it brought a tear to the eye and provided some kind of solace. It had been obvious from the get-go that our team of journeymen wasn't near good enough, and when Fernando Torres rocketed the ball past Shay Given with only a few minutes on the clock, the Irish fans might as well have packed their bags there and then.

But they didn't -- they hung on in there right until the very end, and the rendition of our nation's favourite sporting song was a credit to them as fans and as decent people.

Keane, now a pundit on ITV, wasn't having it and lashed out. He was seething and came up with the quite incredible remark: "Let's change that attitude towards Irish supporters." Keane believes that the fans shouldn't have been in such high spirits on the back of such a decisive loss. There is so much wrong with Keane's remark, it's difficult to know where to begin.

It's reasonably understandable when Keane holds the team and management to account. As a player, he held himself to the highest standards.

But to turn his ire on the fans isn't good enough. This is the man who famously criticised a section of the fans at Old Trafford, accusing them of being 'the prawn sandwich brigade' in reference to their lack of enthusiasm.

Now Keane wants the Irish fans taken to task for supporting their team through thick and thin. It's mind-boggling stuff.

I have a suspicion that Keane doesn't understand what the Irish supporters were doing. The reason he doesn't understand is probably the same reason why he failed as a manager. He doesn't understand people because he doesn't seem to fully understand empathy.

There were heroes playing last Thursday night. Shay Given, Richard Dunne, Robbie Keane and Damien Duff have never failed to show up for the Irish team. They've been there through everything. They've played through injury, and in many cases, against the wishes of their clubs.

It was a colossal effort to get us to a major international tournament. We know that in a country where bad news has become the norm, men like Shay Given had high hopes of providing us with some good news.

That was why the fans sang the way they did. For those 20 minutes after the Spanish scored their fourth goal, there was no way the Irish fans were going to leave our warriors alone on the pitch.

Hopefully, we were also sending out a message to the likes of Roy Keane: get a life.

Sunday Independent

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