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Quinn on the spot for children's soccer day

DUBLIN schoolchildren put their striking skills to the test with former Irish footballer and Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn.

Twenty children from the Ringsend and Irish Community Centre's Summer Project got the chance to put one past Niall as part of the Dublin Bus Annual Penalty Shoot Out.

The Dublin Bus initiative allows school pupils to spend the day with the Irish footballing hero.

This is the fifth year of the event, which is just one of the initiatives Dublin Bus organises under its Schools Programme to build relations with all communities and inform them of the benefits of public transport and ensure mutual respect between Dublin Bus and the community.

The Sunderland FC chairman greeted each child before they set off to Irishtown stadium by open-topped bus.

Niall insisted that in these belt-tightening times, it was essential to keep on giving back to the community.

"The way the economy is, the amount of cutbacks in place ... It's a time when people can't afford to give.


"But these people (from Ringsend and the Irishtown Community Centre) are still giving their time and we mustn't forget about them," he told the Herald.

"The programme is getting bigger and better ... It must be protected."

The former Ireland international has participated in the Dublin Bus scheme since it first started five years ago.

"We pick a new area every year. We've been in Tallaght, Finglas. It's the first year that we're in the south side," a spokeswoman for Dublin Bus said.

The children were full of praise for Niall.

"He was brilliant. He's great at football," Aaron Murphy Dunne (9) told the Herald.

"We started by hitting the crossbar, then we had the penalty shoot-out and some warming up shots.

"It's so exciting, he said I was a great sportsman and that everybody was very good at the crossbar. We even had lunch later."

Aaron Barry (16), who had only come to see the football star in action, got a chance to be goalkeeper for the day.

"I'm tall enough, so he asked me to join in. It was great craic."