Paul McGrath in serene form for Ireland at Italia '90 ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
London 2012

Carrying a torch: Paul McGrath in pole position to carry Olympic flame

The Black Pearl of Inchicore has emerged as the favourite to carry the Olympic torch through Dublin and fly the flag for Irish football.

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION of Ireland has confirmed that ‘an Irish football legend’ has accepted the role of Olympic torchbearer as part of pre-games celebrations on June 6.

Speculation was sparked yesterday at an Olympic sponsorship announcement when President of the Olympic Council of Ireland, Pat Hickey said he would have ‘no problem’ with ex-Ireland and Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane carrying the torch.

Hickey revealed that current Irish football captain Robbie Keane had been approached for the high profile event. However the striker will be with his international teammates in Poland at the time, ahead of the Euro 2012 opener against Croatia on June 10.

Sporting celebrities such as Brian O’Driscoll, Pádraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy were also approached but fixture lists and tour commitments mean past greats look the most likely options to join the 40-strong cavalcade of torchbearers relaying the Olympic flame across Dublin.

A spokesman for the FAI confirmed to TheScore that the association was contacted by the OCI about securing a footballing representative to carry the Olympic torch. He commented:

“The Football Association of Ireland made contact with an Irish football legend who has accepted the role as of yesterday. The Olympic Council of Ireland will reveal the name of the football representative along with all of the other sports torch bearers in the next few weeks.”

The Daily Star reported this morning that Paul McGrath is the favourite to land the role but an official announcement will not be made until mid-April. McGrath is in Dublin this afternoon for an event promoting a John Giles charitable trust but may stay tight-lipped on his plans for June 6.

Other confirmed torchbearers include former Olympians Wayne McCullogh, Michael Carruth and Sonia O’Sullivan. Irish marathon runner Mark Keneally will also carry the torch bearing the Olympic flame through the streets of Dublin as part of a 70-day journey to the London Olympic Stadium.

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