Saturday 24 February 2018

Keegan fires up troops to give domestic game much-needed shot in the arm

David Kelly

David Kelly

Bohemians' midfielder and proud Irish captain Paul Keegan is out to prove a point to detractors of League of Ireland football this evening -- and that includes Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni.

The Italian has made no secret of his contempt for the domestic game, particularly regarding its players' suitability for the international game.

But Keegan (below), a former U-21 team-mate of United's midfield star Darron Gibson, feels that a good showing from the hosts this evening would be a huge boost to the domestic game.

"All the lads out there trying to prove a point," he said. "If we can play well, it will show we can perform at that level. People have perceptions of the league but it's up to us to prove otherwise.

"Keith Fahey and Kevin Doyle are recent examples of how our league can produce quality.

"We're going to get a lot of people here who don't go to our games. If we give a good account and people realise we're decent players who can play, we might get more fans at our games."

It is a point that Damien Richardson, the Airtricity selection manager, agrees with. "These players want to demonstrate that their league is of consequence," he said.

Richardson has vowed to match fire with fire this evening.

"We won't be doing a damage-limitation exercise -- that wouldn't do anybody any favours," he said.

"We're not going to try to impress people by keeping the score down, being proud of how we parked the bus in front of the penalty area to get away with a 1-0 defeat. That would be an admission of inferiority for me.

"It's unrealistic to think we can topple them. But realism and football don't always go hand in hand. Football is the most unrealistic business. Good attitude and perseverance can alter circumstances drastically.

"It's important players can have that attitude. What's the point in sitting back and taking pressure all night? It wouldn't do anything for the players or me. Trapattoni says results are the only thing that are remembered but sometimes performances can be too."

Airtricity League XI: Rogers, Shelley, Powell, Peers, Oman, Guy, Keegan (c), Williams, Ndo, Brennan, Madden.

Manchester United (squad)-- Kuszczak, Amos, R Da Silva, F Da Silva, Vidic, Smalling, Evans, O'Shea, Carrick, Fletcher, Gibson, Nani, Park, Valencia, Berbatov, Owen, Rooney, Hernandez.

Irish Independent

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