Roy Keane returns to the Cobh Ramblers

It is more than a quarter of a century since Roy Keane first togged out for Cobh Ramblers, but he was back at his old stomping ground last night, taking part in a charity fundraiser.

The Republic of Ireland assistant manager was acting as coach for a team consisting of ex-Ramblers players, taking on the current Springfield junior team to raise funds for Cobh Hospital.

Keane, who played 23 times for Cobh from 1989 to 1990, took on a familiar role, as assistant to Ramblers manager Bob Donovan.

He was in jubilant form last night, shaking hands and reminiscing with old Cobh teammates, and joking with the players in the dressing room.

Among them were Fergus McDaid, Pat Maher, Paul Crowley, Michael Ger O’Leary, Mick O’Leary, and Len Downey, plus Anthony Kenneally, who captained the Cobh team last night.

Keane made a presentation of crystal from the ex-players to former Ramblers manager Liam McMahon prior to the game, which was attended by more than 1,500 people.

The former Ireland and Manchester United captain played briefly for the club before he was snapped up by Nottingham Forest in 1990.

The game, which ended 2-2, took place at St Colman’s Park in Cobh.

It is estimated that last night’s event raised more than €4,000 that will go towards the building of an extension to Cobh Hospital.

Keane has been linked with the vacant managerial role at Aston Villa following the dismissal of Paul Lambert. He had been installed as Lambert’s assistant in the summer before he quit to concentrate on his role with the Republic of Ireland team.

The idea for the fundraising game was a joint effort by Pat Houlihan of the Rory Gallagher Art Association and Tony Girasole of Calcia Sportivo.

When Keane was asked to take part, he immediately said he would be glad to.

“We had a great night,” said Cobh manager Bob Donovan.

“Roy was the big attraction, of course, and he was brilliant. He stood for every photograph he was asked to and was in great form all night.”

He and Keane exchanged banter about their schoolboy playing days. “He said to me, did I remember the goals he set up for me, and I reminded him I set up the goal that got him noticed all those years ago.”

Donovan was also impressed with Keane’s coaching skills. “I’d have him again,” he quipped.

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