WATCH: Roy Keane misses penalty as Manchester United beat Ireland/Celtic in Liam Miller tribute match
DUBLIN came up trumps in Cork; a unique twist on a special day as a galaxy of footballing stars paid special tribute to the city's fallen son, Liam Miller.
After a Manchester United legends XI and a combined Republic Of Ireland/Celtic XI finished 2-2 at full-time, Dion Dublin's penalty clinched the tie for the Reds.
WATCH:@FAIreland legend & former @celticfc man Robbie Keane pulls one back for the Ireland/Celtic team here in Cork. ⚽️— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) September 25, 2018
The #LiamMillerTribute match is live on Virgin Media Three & #VMSport. pic.twitter.com/oJnP1CMLwF
Roy Keane trumped his Ireland boss Martin O'Neill, then; but the Corkman did miss a penalty in the shoot-out; David Forde may struggle to regain his Ireland place now. Keane can hold a grudge, we hear.
Proceedings started at a liberally gentle pace; after all, Martin O'Neill had suggested both sides would give it their all for "at least the first three minutes".
The most frenetic early action came from the terraces; loud, pantomime booing for Gary Neville every time he touched the ball; heaven knows why.
Johan Mjallby took down Nicky Butt for a 19th minute penalty and, despite Louis Saha's eagerness to nab the duties, Denis Irwin seemed to run all the way from Togher to wrestle the ball from the Frenchman's grasp.
A Frenchman scoring the first goal in Pairc Ui Chaoimh may not have been an apt enough memento; Irwin suitably obliged by dispatching one of those howitzer dead ball strikes he was famous for.
A dash of Nicky Butt show-boating in his own area allowed Kevin Kilbane a glorious chance to equalise just moments later when he was put in by Shaun Maloney; the popular pundit pitifully placed his shot across the goal as far away from danger as possible.
He would pay for his profligacy; current Welsh boss Ryan Giggs, instead of flying down the wing, decided to let the ball do the work instead and sent a delicious through ball down the right for Saha to chase.
Some of the French star's extant pace still remains; most of Richard Dunne's does not; the Irishman was more interested in preventing Saha use his left foot to strike as they strode alongside for some 30 metres. Instead, Saha merely pulled an accurate right-footer into the far left corner of David Forde's goal.
Ireland losing at home, then; hardy surprising in the current climate, some might say; that Martin O'Neill was being outdone by his own assistant, Roy Keane, will rankle with the ultra-competitive Derryman. Keane won't allow him to forget it, either.
The other Keane, Robbie, was keenly competitive too; his ball for Kilbane allowed "Zinedine" to reverse his earlier, unpaid favour to Maloney; this time the former Celtic striker was just as wasteful, dragging a left-footer which trickled lazily beyond the left post.
Kilbane, enjoying a roaming role – if, that is, running across the front-line in constant peril of an offside can be defined as roaming – earned himself another swat at goal; his effort from the right-hand side was at least as consistently inaccurate.
For sure, it is a bit late in life for such a striking conversion; Keane, the life-long sniper, pounced in style three minutes before the break to reduce the deficit, stepping around John O'Shea to smack home a shot after effectively creating the chance himself.
United led 2-1 – double scores as they say around these parts, at tea-time; albeit we suspect something stronger may have been brewing.
David May replaced Irwin for the second-half; perhaps the former centre-back one of the players to whom O'Neill was referring to earlier when describing how the dressing-room roof had to be lowered to accommodate, ahem, "a few on the more portly side".
O'Neill's Ireland made radical change at the break; a most unusual detour for one normally so conservative. United were struggling to maintain the Irish pressure.
Cometh the hour, cometh the Keano, the player-manager deciding to install himself in the United midfield instead of Nicky Butt on the hour; his every sinew twitch was acclaimed with the throatiest of roars.
Whatever about his ongoing travails as an Irish assistant, without his assistance, this tribute occasion would not have metamorphosed into such a significant staging.
His passing was crisp and precisely delivered, like many of his utterances; one can only hope he can deign to bequeath some of his former skills to his current charges in green ahead of next month's far more serious fare.
His namesake continued to be the most influential presence, natural given his recent activity; he delivered a wonderful lobbed pass into his old Spurs and Ireland team-mate Stephen Kelly; the Dubliner's shot was parried. Then Robbie Keane had another shot saved.
Paul Scholes remained to navigate some gentle passing moves for United; he linked up with Butt whose precise pass to Michael Clegg deserved a goal but David Forde was not so generous.
It was all Ireland, though, and with Keane struggling to convert chances into goals; he tried creating one instead; only for Kenny Cunningham to remind us why he never scored for Ireland during 72 caps.
Aptly, a Cork man completed the scoring; Colin Healy's thumping volley, after Kevin Doyle had neatly nodded on from Duff's pinpoint cross, ensuring the crowd were treated to a penalty shoot-out they probably would have got anyway.
They hardly would have expected both Keanes to miss their strikes. Then again, this was a day for reminding everyone that we are all fallible and, sometimes, there are more important things to worry about.
Ireland/Celtic: David Forde; Stephen Carr (Stephen Kelly, HT), Richard Dunne (Kenny Cunningham, HT), Johan Mjallby (Stephen McManus, 27) (Shaun Maloney, 79), Ian Harte (Stephen McPhail, HT); Damien Duff (Colin Healy, RT), Paul Lambert (Andy Reid, HT), Stiliyan Petrov (Graham Kavanagh, HT), Kevin Kilbane (Tosh McKinlay, HT) (Damien Duff, 72); Shaun Maloney (Kevin Doyle, HT), Robbie Keane.
Manchester United: Kevin Pilkington (Mark McNulty, 61); Gary Neville (Michael Clegg, HT), John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Mikael Silvestre, Denis Irwin (David May, HT); Paul Scholes (Louis Saha, 70), Nicky Butt (Quinton Fortune, 61), Ryan Giggs (Roy Keane, 61); Alan Smith (Nicky Butt, 81), Louis Saha (Dion Dublin, HT).
Referee: Graham Kelly.