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Tuesday 20 February 2018

Keane backs O'Neill to take over Ireland reins

Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane have worked together as TV commentators - Keane has backed the Derry man for the Irish job
Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane have worked together as TV commentators - Keane has backed the Derry man for the Irish job

ROY KEANE believes that Martin O'Neill would be a "very good choice" as Ireland manager, with the Corkman playing down speculation that he himself might be a candidate to replace Giovanni Trapattoni.

Keane (42), who was back on home turf to present the Mayfield East Community Awards, said he had not been approached about the vacancy.

"I have not thought about it too much. I have more important things to be worried about," he said.

He did offer the opinion, however, that the next manager will inherit a reasonable enough situation despite Ireland's struggles in the World Cup campaign.

"I don't think it is as bad as everyone is making out. There are young players coming through and it is a good job for a manager. Definitely," he said.

"A lot of managers have been linked with it. A lot of good managers. I would find it hard to disagree with it – I don't know about the favourites. I know a little bit about Martin O'Neill and I think Martin would be a very, very good choice."

Both Keane and O'Neill, a Northern Ireland international, launched their careers under Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest.

Former Manchester United skipper Keane feels the FAI are right to take their time, although Johnny Giles last night offered his belief that the job would be O'Neill's if he made a strong play for it.

"I think the FAI have done the right thing in stepping back, taking their time and seeing what is out there," continued Keane. "But I think Martin would be a very good guy for the job."

Keane added he wasn't flattered that his name was being linked with the job, saying: "No, not really. I shouldn't be flattered by that, should I?"

"There are a lot of good managers out there out of work. I think the FAI has done the right thing in stepping back. It is as simple as that."

Keane also tipped Cork to win the All-Ireland hurling final against Clare after admitting that he was thrilled to be at the drawn game in Croke Park three weeks ago. He is set to attend the replay.

"Hopefully it will be a Cork win. It was brilliant, the last game. I really enjoyed it. I have not had that much fun for a good few years and hopefully Cork will do it."

MCA official Eddie Carey said they were "absolutely thrilled" that the star agreed to attend their awards night and receive a Hall of Fame tribute.

"It is nice to give a bit back. I am from Mayfield. I was born and reared here. I was married here," Keane said. "The kids were christened here.

"Sometimes Mayfield gets a bad reputation and I think it is unfair. There are a lot of good people in the community here and that is why I am here tonight, to show my appreciation."

Ralph Riegel

Indo Sport

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