Friday 15 December 2017

Skipper cartwheels into record books after enjoying 'special night'

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

ROBBIE Keane performed his trademark cartwheel celebration for the first of his three goals last night – and then revealed he was going against orders.

Superstar Keane grabbed only the second hat-trick of his Irish career in his 126th international, but only the first goal got the trademark Robbie treatment.

"I got excited. I shouldn't really do it. I've got a bad shoulder. I was told not to do it but when you score goals everything goes out the window," he grinned.

This was a night when almost everything he touched went into the Faroe Islands net, and for Keane, heavily criticised in some quarters often in the past, all was forgiven and forgotten.

A standing ovation during the first half was acknowledgement of his long service and dedication to the cause.

"Yeah it's a special night obviously because of the whole situation, getting the caps and obviously scoring three goals – for anybody it's a great occasion," he said. "The most important thing was getting a good result and getting the three points.

"We were trying to get as many goals as we could because of the goal difference. The fans were great, as always.

"I can't speak highly enough of the fans. Since I've come into the squad they've been tremendous and they gave me a great reception. I'm obviously delighted with that and I really, really appreciate it."

Keane and the other Irish players got word of Austria's 2-1 win over Sweden, but he is encouraged by the spirit among the Irish squad over the last few weeks.

"We just have to worry about ourselves now. The games against Austria and Sweden are make or break. But it's a campaign and I have to say, the whole two weeks together has been brilliant.

"I think we've probably bonded more this week in terms of the way we played on the pitch and the way we've conducted ourselves off the pitch so it's been a credit to the management and everybody."

DUTY

There may be one or two cry-offs before the squad jets off to America to play Spain on Tuesday, but Keane will turn up for duty.

"Sure I'm half way home," he quipped. "Yes, I'll be there.

"Playing the champions and the team which is the best I've ever played against isn't the match you want after a qualifier but we'll enjoy tonight and then be ready for Tuesday."

LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said that the Galaxy without Keane is like Miami Heat Basketball team without Le Bron James – a massive compliment.

"I don't know what to say to that," Keane said. "Le Bron James is a big star in America and certainly for the Miami Heat. Nice comments, I appreciate that."

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