Post-match recovery for League of Ireland players has come a long way since Roy Keane’s time in the league.
nd the Ireland assistant manager says that the domestic league can still provide a pathway to the senior international team, a road taken by players like Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle of late.
Keane has attended his fair share of LOI games since he joined the FAI payroll and he maintains that it’s not an empty exercise.
“Me and Martin enjoy going to watch matches and it’s certainly not a PR exercise, we are going because we enjoy watching League of Ireland players, we enjoy looking at players who we think might, and will, get the opportunity to come into the senior squad,” said Keane, in Dublin yesterday for the launch of the new SSE Airtricity League season.
“The profile of the league has helped, particularly with Cork City and Dundalk having success in Europe, all of a sudden we are looking at League of Ireland teams competing against some really good teams in Europe.
“Your eyes don’t lie to you, when you are watching a good player, you are watching a good player no matter what level he is playing at, and we have been impressed with lots of players,” added Keane, who worked with Boyle and Horgan before the most recent World Cup tie in Austria.
“A couple of lads have managed to get involved with the senior squad and we’d like to think that will continue over the next year or two.
“It would be different if we were going to matches and players were not getting a sniff of the senior team, if you are a player playing in the League of Ireland and you see what’s happened to the couple of lads who have been involved, the first thing you’d ask yourself is why can’t that be me?”
Keane of course made his start in senior football as an LOI player, with Cobh Ramblers in the 1989/90 season, and he feels the scene has moved on a lot.
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“I’d hope there is a difference, I’d hope the players would be better, fitter, stronger, a more professional look to it,” Keane admitted.
“Going back 20-odd years ago the first thing we’d do straight after the game was have four or five pints, I’d like to think the players aren’t doing that now - maybe I am wrong,” he joked.
“From the games I have seen the players look a lot fitter, they are technically better and we have seen that up close with the couple of lads from Dundalk who have made the move to England.
“Compared to when I played in the LOI 20-odd years ago, the players look a lot fitter and stronger.
“Better preparation, better recovery, I’d like to think that travel arrangements, the kit, the training ground, that they have all improved, if it hasn’t then we are in trouble.”
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