Keane buries father as team-mates fly to Georgia

A SOMBRE looking Robbie Keane attended his father’s funeral ceremony yesterday as the Irish team flew onto Georgia for Saturday’s crunch match.

Robbie Keane Senior, aged 51, was buried in Newlands Cross Cemetery in Crumlin after losing a year-long battle with liver cancer.

The funeral mass in St Agnes Church, Crumlin, was attended by friends and family, including members of Robbie Keane’s local club, Crumlin United. Among those attending was Jimmy Deering, one of the club’s founders. He has been credited by Brian Kerr as the man who introduced him to football management.

Both Robbie and his brother, Graham, played with Crumlin United under the watchful eye of Robbie Snr, according to club chairman Sean Wall.

“I’d have seen him every Saturday morning at the matches. He used to stand up one end on his own, while we got the teams ready. He wasn’t the type who would be interfering with you.”

Mr Keane, a traditional musician, was regularly begged by friends not to sing his version of ‘Hey Jude’ at talent competitions, in order to give others a chance.

“He’d sit down and wait till the end. Then he’d sing it and wipe the floor with them. He was a great singer,” said Mr Wall.

‘Hey, Jude’ was played over the sound system in St Agnes Church for the 15 minute service on the previous night, which was also attended by Brian Kerr and the Irish soccer squad.

Last year, Mr Keane’s condition had improved sufficiently to allow him travel to the Far East to see his son become one of the stars of the World Cup. On his last trip to England in January, he saw Robbie Keane score a hat trick for Tottenham Hotspur against Everton and win the man of the match award.

Mr Keane is survived by his wife, Anne, and children, Natasha, aged 30, Graham, aged 26, Robbie, aged 22, Amy, aged 19 and his mother, Bernadette.

It is still unknown if Robbie Keane will travel to Georgia for Ireland’s vital Euro 2004 qualifier on Saturday. The Irish team left Dublin on the five-hour flight to Tbilisi yesterday morning. Although manager Kerr has said he is leaving the decision up to Keane, it is logistically possible to arrive in Georgia in time for the match.

Ireland’s second qualifier takes place against Albania on Wednesday.

“There’s no news as yet. It’s up to the player. He’ll decide himself,” said an FAI spokeswoman.

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