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Kelly: We must take chances


Republic of Ireland goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly. Photo: Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly. Photo: Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly. Photo: Sportsfile

THEY were far from innocent days and when Alan Kelly spent some time recalling a warm day on a hillside somewhere between Switzerland and Austria in 1995, you could almost smell the fug of beer.

It was Kelly's job in June 18 years ago to mind goal against Liechtenstein in Eschen when Ireland 'were beaten' 0-0 by the smallest of football minnows and the entire country reeked of drink for a week afterwards.

Yesterday, it was Kelly's job to supply the belly laughs on the Costa Del Portmarnock.

It's hard to be grumpy or even raise a head of steam about Giovanni Trapattoni's eccentricities and the great Yankee Stadium squad mystery when the weather is so good. Add Kelly's ability to raise a laugh and fill the space between Italian football traditionalists and Irish fecklessness and the recipe was complete.

The topic was the banana-skin potential contained in a group of hardy men from the far North, and Kelly was present against Liechtenstein for the most famous slip-up of them all, which makes him a bit of an expert.

So what are your memories of that infamous day Alan? "Well we kept a clean sheet," he said with a laugh. "And I had one save. I think it was the 73rd minute – I can't remember his name. I had seen nothing of the ball and he came through on the corner of the box, he was absolutely shaking in his boots and when he got closer, I went MAAAAAA!," he said, with a big, haka face.



"His knees were knocking and he was absolutely gone. He smashed it into me and I said, thank you very much ... psychology.

"When you look back, I think we had 42 efforts flying off backsides and pieces of grass and all sorts. But the plus side was that we made the opportunities though we didn't stick them away. Look, when you've been run over everything's a positive and I look at things with a positive nature."

Kelly is always a tonic and tries to keep things light but he did stray into serious territory when he was asked about Robbie Keane, the soon-to-be new holder of the Irish cap record.

"I don't think he's got the recognition he deserves. I don't know why. He should have you look at the record and look at the goals. Top six in Europe of all time. People have said, 'look at the teams he's played against' but you've got to be in the team and you've got to take those chances.

"And you've got to be here to do it. I can't believe he's not held up as a national icon in terms of what he has done for us as a sporting nation.

"I will never forget the Germany game in 2002. The celebrations after that goal. I went down the touchline but they were all finished by the time I got there I was so slow.

"But that was him scoring that goal, getting in there and doing it and creating that massive atmosphere. It has taken until now for people to say 'Wow, look at this fella, what an icon'.

Kelly has watched David Forde develop to the point where he appears to have somehow, suddenly emerged fully formed and now fills the gap left behind by Shay Given comfortably.

"It is a lot of work, a lot of analysing, a lot of looking at performances, a lot of personal one-to-ones, of some home truths in terms of saying to him, 'yes you can do it, you have everything, you have all the tools and have what it takes to be a number one and you've got the jersey, carry on, keep believing and don't apologise for being number one'. And I see that when I see him on the pitch now."

Kelly is confident that Forde's calf injury will be fine for the Faroes and when he finished telling tales of yesteryear, he brought everyone sharply back into focus.

"To go into a game like that it's about what we do. We know what they will do. It's about hard we work and how we break them down and get into those goalscoring opportunities which we didn't take against Liechtenstein.

"But we have lads like Robbie Keane to take advantage. We have to go in a positive manner, proactive, go out there and do what we did against the Georgians with a bit of creativity."