Mary Hannigan's TV View: Farewell Robbie, now pass the Kleenex

Tear-inducing clips of little Robbie doing his thing over the years kicked off the night

Robbie Keane and  his sons Robert and Hudson are applauded off the pitch by team-mates at the end of the game.  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Robbie Keane and his sons Robert and Hudson are applauded off the pitch by team-mates at the end of the game. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

A missed opportunity for Kleenex, that, they should have been sponsoring the night’s viewing. Not that eir Sport tried to make us cry or anything, apart from starting off with those clips of little Robbie doing his thing for Ireland with sad music in the background and then him arriving for the last time at Lansdowne in slow motion when we know he’s 36 but he’s not that sluggish.

 And then they had Mick McCarthy, Mick Byrne with a framed photo of himself and the pope over his right shoulder, Ruby Walsh, Brian O’Driscoll, Bernard Dunne, Pádraig Harrington, Alan Brogan, Paul Galvin, Paul O’Connell, Matt Holland, Brian Kerr and the President say goodbye (the wimmin must have been making the sangwidges), before introducing Des Curran’s chat with the man himself by using a tune that went:  “We used to have it all, but now’s our curtain call ...wave out to the crowd, and take our final bow, Oh, it’s our time to go, but at least we stole the show.”

 All we needed was Ella Fitzgerald crooning “Every time we say goodbye, I die a little…” to push us completely over the edge.

 Alas, when we got our first view of the stadium there were fewer spectators than there were international goals scored by Robbie. Conor Morris, standing at the breakfast bar on the pitch with Denis Irwin and Kevin Kilbane, conceded that the eir Sport team hadn’t been tingling either over our latest collision with Oman.

Conor, though, promised that Robbie’s retirement announcement changed everything, we were in for a night to remember, but you wondered if the most memorable bit would occur when he took the chance to wander in to the Irish dressing room while the lads were out warming up, a sacrosanct place usually entirely off limits pre-match to telly people.

If Roy had emerged from the showers at that point, with Pantene Truly Relaxed Moisturising Conditioner in his hair, Conor might well have been done for. Happily, he survived to bring us the team news.

Martin being Martin and Roy being Roy you’d have been half concerned that they’d leave Robbie on the bench in a “no room for sentiment, we’ve Serbia coming up” kind of way, but mercifully they got in to the spirit of things.

Out came the teams, soon followed by Robbie, Robert Jr and Hudson, and if you weren’t in shreds you’re an automaton.

 Des Curran gave Oman a Céad Mile Fáilte to Dublin by suggesting that they were “cannon fodder” for Robbie’s last game, which was a bit rude, but within a half an hour or so you had a hunch cannon fodder might have defended more stoutly. The first goal went to Robbie, the Brady fella gate-crashing the occasion, but then the other Robbie made it just the 68 goals in 146 appearances. Decent. One last somersault and that shooty thing.

It was 3-0 by half-time, so you couldn’t but be happy, until eir Sport filled the break with the strains of who else but Keane and “This is the last time”. By now we felt like Tommy Tiernan in that Fr Ted episode, when his brief taste of happiness was obliterated by Radiohead coming on the radio in the bus.

 In the second half we got just 12 more minutes of Robbie, and then it was farewell, the stirring ovation from the crowd a very lovely thing.

“Thank you very much and God bless ye all,” he said, and that was that. It’s his time to go, but at least he stole the show.

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