Roy Keane recently paid tribute to his former teammate at Rockmount Paul McCarthy, who died suddenly last month, writes Stephen Barry.
Keane and McCarthy played together as schoolboys at Rockmount, with McCarthy even arranging a trial at Brighton for the Man United legend to-be, which fell through.
The 45-year-old died at his home near Brighton after returning from a cycle.
We are deeply saddened to hear of the sudden death of former Rockmount player Paul McCarthy in England. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam pic.twitter.com/Vdr20uWNFz— RockmountAFC (@RockmountAFC) February 20, 2017
“It was shocking news. I think we’re all still in shock,” said Keane.
“I’m very lucky to have played with Paul at Rockmount for a few years and, of course, with Ireland underage. It’s still hard to believe (he’s passed away).”
That Rockmount team went unbeaten for five years, from U12 to U16, and featured five Irish underage internationals, McCarthy, Alan O’Sullivan, Len Downey, Damien Martin and Keane.
“When you look back on your career, people talk about the highlights, but to me it was always about the lads I played with, the characters, the lads at Rockmount, obviously Paulie, Alan and Len,” said Keane, pointing to a photo of the quartet prior to an U16 international at Turner’s Cross.
“In terms of schoolboy level, I think Paulie and O’Sullivan were the two best schoolboys I’ve seen for a long, long time. I went to Brighton with Paul but it didn’t work out with the trial.
“It’s shocking news for his family. His funeral is the day of the Welsh match so I won’t be able to get to it but it’s shocking news.
“(He was a) brilliant player and people who played with him over the last few years have spoken brilliant of him. Brilliant character, brilliant player and, like I said, it’s unbelievable news – really shocking.”
Before Keane’s comments at a fundraiser for Cobh Ramblers two weeks ago, a video showed McCarthy famously scoring an “unbelievable” last-minute-of-extra-time leveller against Wimbledon, which kept Wycombe Wanderers’ remarkable 2001 FA Cup run going. The centre-back scored his fifth goal of that 10-game run in the quarter-finals against Leicester City, before Liverpool defeated the underdogs 2-1 in the semi-finals.
McCarthy did make it up the steps of Wembley seven years later to lift the FA Trophy in 2008 as captain of Ebbsfleet United.
His funeral will take place on Friday, March 24th in Crowborough, East Sussex.