Keogh and McShane united and reunited


HAVING BEEN friends since they met while playing for St Joseph’s Boys in Sallynoggin a decade or so ago, Paul McShane and Andy Keogh see eye to eye on most things. In the run-up to this evening’s game at the Aviva Stadium, though, there is a somewhat predictable divergence of opinion over the possible outcome against Andorra.

The defender, surprise surprise, is quick to say how happy he would be to settle for a 1-0 win, while his striker friend observes: “We haven’t scored there yet, have we, so it would be nice to smack a few in.”

Andorra’s record on the road suggests there should be the potential to take the “smacking a few in” approach but there’s little doubt, of course, where Giovanni Trapattoni stands on the margin of victory issue.

Aside from being wheeled in one after the other to meet the press at Malahide this week, Keogh and McShane have enjoyed another reunion of sorts of late, with the former’s decision to leave Wolves for a season-long loan at Cardiff in order to get more first team football, ensuring they will both be playing their football in the Championship this season. Matters will come to a head this Saturday when Hull City head for Wales.

It will be an interesting tussle between two of the pre-season favourites to feature in the promotion race and both are anxious to get back to the top flight – even if the most pressing priority just now is to settle into their club sides after what was a difficult campaign last year and, ideally, to start making a case for inclusion in Trapattoni’s starting line-up.

“They (Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle) deserve to be playing,” acknowledges Keogh in relation to his own battle for a place in Ireland’s front line. “They’re the best strikers in the country at the moment. The only thing you can do is be ready if called upon and to try to give the manager something to think about. That’s what I want to do.

“I was sat on the bench (at Wolves) every week and it was doing me no good,” he continues, “I was getting bored. I was coming on here and there but I just wanted to get out and get going, something fresh and I think Cardiff is the right option because of the chance of getting back to the Premiership.

“I’m not going there to sit on the bench so it’s up to me to get in there and get playing. But any team that hopes to get promoted, they need a good squad, not just a good 10 or 11 players.

“And there’s a good buzz around Cardiff, a feeling that this could be their year. The club showed their intent with the signing of Craig Bellamy and then a few more followed and I think that made my mind up. I think he (Bellamy) is a great player.

“He was tremendous last season at Man City; I don’t know what went on, don’t know why Man City would let one of their best players go but it’s going to be enjoyable to play with him.”

As for coming up against McShane again this weekend, there will be little enough novelty factor to it. “We see enough of each other as it is,” he says. “Me and Paul go back; we know each other since we were 10 or 11 through Joeys. I always see him and he’s godfather to my daughter (13-week-old Lyla) so we have a good relationship.”

Of the pair, Keogh looks the slightly more likely to get a run-out against Andorra, with McShane having missed the trip to Yerevan with a slight hamstring problem and, more significantly, slipped down Trapattoni’s pecking order a little over the past 12 months or so.

Last season was, he admits, not the best of times for him but he is fully fit now, anxious to prove himself again by helping Hull bounce back from relegation and, most immediately, keen to see Ireland make it six points out of six this evening.

“Three points is the important thing so we cannot get sucked into the fans wanting four or five. We have got to get three points and that’s it.

“We have to guard against complacency but in fairness, it’s going away to these teams that is probably the more difficult thing. At home, hopefully we can be more comfortable. We will see on Tuesday night but it should be pretty good.”