Keane gets FAI player of the year
Roy Keane's unlucky season was given a welcome boost yesterday when he was named as Ireland's Player of the Year at the FAI Opel awards ceremony in Dublin.
Keane was not present to receive the trophy from the Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern at the televised function attended by members of the national squad, taking a short break from their build up to Wednesday's big game at Lansdowne Road.
Instead, he is taking a family holiday before entering hospital this week for an operation to repair a torn cruciate ligament but in a taped interview, he expressed his satisfaction in winning the award for the first time.
Keane topped the poll, just ahead of the two other shortlisted candidates, Kenny Cunningham and David Connolly but there was some consolation for Connolly when he was named as the Young Player Of The Year.
The achievement of Ireland's Under-20 team in finishing third in the world championship in the steamy heat of Malaysia in the summer, was indicated in the nominations for two of the subsidiary awards.
David Worrell, the accomplished Blackburn defender, was presented with the trophy in the Under-21 category while his clubmate, Damien Duff who scored a couple of crucial goals in Malaysia, was a predictable winner in the youths' grade.
Des Baker of Shelbourne, another member of that accomplished squad, was in contention for the National League nomination but lost out narrowly to the Derry City player, Peter Hutton. Hutton thus follows in the path of those whose have won this and the Football Writers' award in the same season.
Franz Beckenbauer, one of the enduring names in international football, was present to receive his trophy in the international celebrity category and afterwards spoke of his pleasure in following in a line initiated by his old World Cup adversary, Bobby Moore.
Eoin Hand was given a special merit award while Dr Kevin O'Flanagan is the newest addition to the Hall of Fame.
O'Flanagan, who fits easily into any list of the outstanding Irish sports personalities of the century, represented Ireland in rugby, played football for both the Republic and Northern Ireland, won national athletics titles in the 100 yards and long jump and later served with distinction as a member of the International Olympic Committee.
Senior: Roy Keane (Man Utd).
Young Player: David Connolly (Feyenoord).
Under-21: David Worrell (Blackburn).
National League: Peter Hutton (Derry City).
Youth: Damien Duff (Blackburn).
Special Merit: Eoin Hand.
Hall Of Fame: Dr Kevin O'Flanagan.
International Celebrity: Franz Beckenbauer.
Women: Bernie Reilly (Shamrock Rovers).
Junior: Barry Flynn (Fairview Rangers).
Under-16: Ritchie Patridge (Liverpool/Stella Maris).
Under-15: T Butler (Sunderland/ Stella Maris).
Schools: Ronnie O'Brien (St Brendans/Middlesborough).