Kean signing jerseys after yesterday's training session. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
The boy done good

A trip down memory lane for Keane as Ireland captain returns to where it all began

Tallaght native Keane is back in the area he grew up, as his LA Galaxy play Shamrock Rovers this afternoon.

Updated at 1.30pm

AS ROBBIE KEANE made his way to Our Lady’s Hospital to donate $50,000 on behalf of LA Galaxy and their sponsors on Wednesday, he was asked by one of his coaches where he used to play as a schoolboy.

What Pat Noonan could not have realised was that they were mere yards from the pitch Keane called home during his days with Crumlin United. Robbie would hop off the bus from Tallaght on the Drimnagh Road and run through the lane along the side of The Star bingo hall, which leads into Pearse Park.

“I said I would get off at the bus stop and go through that little alleyway there and jump over the gate,” Keane said.

“You’re looking at that and still getting that little feeling in your stomach that you had when you were the little kid trying to make it to go to England. I still have that buzz when I put that jersey on — whether it is the Galaxy jersey or the Irish jersey.”

If Crumlin is where his talents were nurtured and developed, the sprawling working-class suburb at the foot of the Dublin mountains is where he kicked a ball for the first time.

There were green fields where Tallaght Stadium stands today when Keane was growing up in nearby Glenshane and he was already banging in goals for Wolves as a fresh-faced 17-year-old when Shamrock Rovers first announced they were moving their senior team and schoolboy set-up to the area in 1997.

By the time the Hoops eventually got to play at their new home in March 2009, he had clocked up 37 goals for Ireland and was just starting into his second spell with Tottenham.

So while it is the local team in Dublin 24, it was never strictly his club. That said, the reason the MLS Cup holders spent the past week in Dublin and not another European city is in no small part down to their captain.

The possibility of a pre-season tour to Ireland was something they had discussed and when the friendly with Hammerby in Stockholm was scheduled, it was the perfect opportunity.

“We were already in Europe so they asked me would I like to play a game and where,” Keane said at the time the fixture was announced back in December.

“Of course it was always going to be Ireland and it was only right that we played against Shamrock Rovers being from Tallaght.”

inpho_00898424 Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Ireland’s all-time goalscorer may be the only household name in the Galaxy’s ranks (Steven Gerrard doesn’t join until the summer) but over 3,000 fans turned out to give him a hero’s welcome at yesterday’s open training session and the game is expected to attract a decent crowd.

Also gearing up for the start of their season next month, Rovers are unbeaten in their three recent friendlies and Pat Fenlon will be eager to keep that momentum going with their opening SSE Airtricity League Premier Division fixture just two weeks away.

The long-running joke about Keane is that every achievement has been a “boyhood dream” of his. In this case, you get the feeling that it could very well be.

Originally published at 6.30am.

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