The day a Robbie Keane goal threw a Junior Cert exam into chaos

The day a Robbie Keane goal threw a Junior Cert exam into chaos
5 June 2002; Robbie Keane, Republic of Ireland, celebrates with Gary Kelly after the game against Germany. FIFA World Cup Finals, Group E, Republic of Ireland v Germany, Ibaraki Stadium, Ibaraki, Japan. Picture credit: David Maher/SPORTSFILE

The top-floor corridor of Coláiste Chríost Rí in Turner’s Cross was racked with tension on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 5, 2002, writes Peter McNamara.

Six classes of Junior Certificate students were moments away from sitting English Paper II but were, to put it conservatively, distracted.

While the more dedicated among us were skimming through notes and material the majority’s thoughts were in a far-flung place, Kashima Stadium in Ibaraki to be exact.

Republic of Ireland. Germany. And the World Cup.

A massive number of students had spent their entire break watching the first-half of the Group E clash. So much for last-minute studying.

We were far more concerned by the implications of Miroslav Klose’s lead-goal than screwing up the Poetry question.

But then the time came to return to our designated desks in the exam centres and the torment truly began.

It was quite bad enough that we were losing in Japan.

However, to miss out on the second half because of a two-and-a-half-hour exam in the searing heat was another level of cruelty altogether.

Directly outside sat a student supervisor, you know the ones, the crew that escort you here and there to guard against any underhanded carry-on.

However, this character turned out to be no ordinary Joe.

This particular individual became the stuff of legend in Capwell. The young fella that disrupted a State Examination for a football match.

Obviously aware of how sickening it was to not be glued to a TV screen, he had his radio at-hand and was, with his ‘Oohs’ and ‘Aahs’ keeping us all informed of events in Japan.

How the main in-class supervisor didn’t step outside to ask him to quieten down we’ll never know.

As time ticked by though the nerves grew and not because the questions were particularly taxing.

We knew time was not on Mick McCarthy’s team’s side and hopes of a leveller were frustratingly fading.

Then it happened. All hell broke loose.

An elongated roar of ‘Yessssssss’ echoed in the hallway followed by himself bursting through the classroom door shouting ‘Robbie’s scored, Robbie’s scored, 1-1, it’s 1-1’.

Exam papers and answer sheets flew into the air and we were going bonkers.

All around us we could hear the celebrations from people in the houses close to the school and the buzz was immense.

Added-time and Keane had roofed a shot past Oliver Kahn.

The in-class supervisor, the ultimate kill-joy, let rip, first at the student supervisor and then at us.

“Get out, get out now,” she screamed at the legendary transition year.

We were still jumping around like monkeys in a zoo.

And as we were, a few of the stragglers used the opportunity to potentially save themselves from getting an ‘F’ with a few ‘tactical’ discussions of their own in the background.

We always maintained Keane’s goal led to a few more Ds than Fs being issued to our lot.

In hindsight, the way we learned of that moment could only have been better by actually being there.

But we lived it too, in the most comedy sketch-like fashion through the eyes and ears of a character that strolled away from a gruelling telling off with his hands in the air, proclaiming: ‘We did it. We bloody did it. Robbie’s denied Ze Germans’.

What a hero.

The energy carried even the greatest of messers through the rest of that paper. Good times.

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