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'Shane wanted to step back from professional football and it was sad. I remember it like it was yesterday'

Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane recalls when the young goalkeeper decided to leave Ipswich Town and return home in 2009.

Supple training with Ireland this afternoon.
Supple training with Ireland this afternoon.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

NINE YEARS ON from their parting at Ipswich Town, Roy Keane and Shane Supple were re-acquainted at the FAI’s training base this afternoon.

Back in 2009, Keane was in charge of the Championship club when the young goalkeeper — disillusioned with professional football — decided to leave the English game behind and return home.

It’s been quite the journey for the Bohemians captain, who was this week called into the Ireland squad for first time ahead of friendly matches with France and the US, and, at 31, he could now be involved in Monday’s friendly at Stade de France.

“I’m sure he’s delighted,” the Ireland assistant boss said in Dublin today. “I just met him briefly before training, he was working with [goalkeeping coach] Seamus [McDonagh].

“Football’s a small world, it’s nice to get back working over the next few days and he’s got a club game [against Shamrock Rovers tomorrow night]. It’s been well-documented that Shane wanted to step back from professional football in England and it was sad. I remember it like it was yesterday.

He certainly wasn’t one for changing his mind and I’m sure he doesn’t regret it. It’s nice to be involved working with him again over the next few days and I look forward to it because he came across as a really nice lad.”

Keane added: “We gave him all those options at the time… take a bit of time off or whatever. What I admired about Shane is that he had made his mind up. Sometimes you have to read the situation and there was no point in trying to make it any worse for him. He had clearly made his mind up and he seems to be enjoying his football living in Ireland.

“You’ve got to admire that, for a young person it’s a brave decision to step away from a potentially great life in England and working at the top level, because clearly he’s a talented boy, but he decided it wasn’t for him. I admire him for that.”

Roy Keane Keane during this afternoon's session. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Supple isn’t the only League of Ireland-based player among the 26-man squad announced earlier today, as Shamrock Rovers star Graham Burke will also be hoping to earn a first senior cap against the French.

Having played for the Hoops against Sligo Rovers on Saturday, Burke was a second-half substitute in Ireland’s meeting with Celtic for Scott Brown’s testimonial the following day. The 24-year-old then lined out for Rovers in Tuesday’s win over St Patrick’s Athletic, and he is due to feature in another Dublin derby tomorrow night — away to Bohemians.

“It’s good to be busy when you’re a footballer,” Keane said of his packed schedule. “I think if you’d said to him a few weeks ago that he was going to be involved in a couple of games with Ireland then he would have been delighted.

All I would say from his cameo up at Celtic is, I think he had maybe three shots on target where he tested the goalkeeper. If you’re an attacking player then you’ve had some impact on the game. So we’re pleased with that and we’re looking forward to seeing him over the next few days.”

Keane and senior international manager Martin O’Neill have regularly attended League of Ireland matches in recent times, but the Cork man explained that he hasn’t exactly been blown away by their most recent outings.

“I’ve said it many times before, I’m a big fan of the League of Ireland,” the ex-Cobh Ramblers youngster said. “Maybe it’s the fact that I played in it for a year and it helped me get to England. It was a good experience for me. The last few games I’ve been at I was probably slightly disappointed with the quality on show, but maybe that was just the couple of games I’ve seen.

“I go to many games in England and I do watch a lot of bad games over there. The more games you go to, the more bad games you see. We’ll be getting to a couple more games, tomorrow night there are a few more around the Dublin area.

“We’re looking for certain individuals to step up and do well. The last couple I’ve been to I think could have been better quality-wise.”

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