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Dublin: 11°C Thursday 15 April 2021

'To win the league would be great for the club and for the city' - Roy Keane backs Cork City's title bid

The Ireland assistant boss also spoke about the need to stamp out racism in society.

Roy Keane, pictured with Minister of State in the Department of Justice and Equality David Stanton and some school children, was speaking at a Show Racism the Red Card event yesterday.
Roy Keane, pictured with Minister of State in the Department of Justice and Equality David Stanton and some school children, was speaking at a Show Racism the Red Card event yesterday.

IRELAND ASSISTANT BOSS Roy Keane has hailed John Caulfield and Cork City for their impressive unbeaten run in the SSE Airtrcity League Premier Division this season.

The Leesiders have won 11 games out of 11 so far and are consequently top of the table on 33 points.

Asked whether it was finally going to be their year having finished as runners-up to Dundalk the past three seasons on the bounce, Keane said:

“It looks like it. It would be great, they’ve had a tough few years in terms of being runners-up to Dundalk who have been amazing. Dundalk have lost two or three top players over the last year or two and it seems like it’s catching up on them.

Cork City have made some clever signings, they’ve been working hard, John Caulfield has done a great job there, I think them winning the cup last year has given them that extra bit of confidence and belief so it looks like it’s Cork City’s to win and it would be great if they push on because as we know Cork City, there is great support there, it’s had its ups and downs, like a lot of league of Ireland clubs it’s been on that roller coaster.

“The cup last year was great but to win the league would be great for the club and for the city because it’s been a tough few years for Cork City.”

Speaking at a Show Racism the Red Card event in Tallaght Stadium, Keane was also asked what kids can do to stand up to racism in Ireland and elsewhere.

“I suppose it comes down to individuals, if they see it, whether it’s in the schools or their sports clubs, then you’ve got to try to do something about it, report it to a teacher or one of your coaches.

“You’ve got to try to step up to the plate, to help try to stamp it out if you see it because that sort of behaviour is unacceptable. Clearly the kids in here are doing something about it because the work that’s going on here is amazing.

Even if you look around this room today you see different nationalities, different races and I think there’s has been a big change in the last five, 10, 15 years and sometimes it’s just about educating people properly; it’s not just about accepting people’s different background, it’s about respecting it and that seems to be going on here, I’ve been sitting there looking and I’ve been moved by it.

“I have children myself and if they and everyone else could do what the kids are doing in this room, then I think the world would be a different place, I’ve been really moved by it. I think it’s fantastic.”

“If you try to put yourself in these people’s shoes, starting life in a new country, in a new school must be nerve-racking, it must be so hard but then somebody goes out of their way to help them out on their first day in whatever way that might be and sport always seems to play a big part in bringing people together….it must a huge difference to people in that situation.

I’ve never experienced it myself because obviously I was brought up in Ireland, the country I was born in, but it must be so nerve-racking, it must be unbelievable and so any help we can give to people has the potential to be a huge help to their confidence, to their belief that they made the right decision to move to Ireland.”

Keane admitted moving to a new country as a teenager, as he did after joining Nottingham Forest, was far from easy, particularly as others got to grips with his strong Cork accent.

“Yeah (laughing), I did have to slow down a small bit for the first few months. But there were lads in England who went out of their way to help me.

“I remember lads like Gary Charles and Gary Bowyer who I look back on now and remember how they were there to help me settle into a new city, a new club, a new country and you remember it for the rest of your life that people went to that little bit of extra trouble for you to help you out in the middle of what is a new experience.

As I’ve said, sport plays a huge part in it. We’ve seen clips there of people playing basketball and it doesn’t matter what colour your skin is, what your religion is or your beliefs; sport brings a lot of people together and that’s why in life, sport is so important.”

Football itself has not been immune to racism of late. A Serie A game at the weekend was overshadowed by Pescara midfielder Sully Muntari leaving the pitch after being racially abused by fans, while last Saturday’s Old Firm derby was also marred by a racist gesture from a supporter.

Asked about the latter incident, Keane added: “There are still a lot of ignorant people out there and it looks like the people involved are going to be charged. In my opinion, rightfully so.

“It’s unacceptable that these things happen, not just in football but anywhere. It goes to show that, as much as there is great work being done, you can’t relax; you have to keep working, trying to educate people because it’s unacceptable, really it’s disgusting.”

Roy Keane was speaking to RTÉ reporter Tony O’Donoghue at the Show Racism the Red Card Creative competition awards at Tallaght Stadium. More info is available here.

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Paul Fennessy

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