RTÉ Keely: "I do not understand how Irish people cannot support an Irish league."
# red rant
'42,000 morons going to watch Liverpool reserves': Soccer Republic's debate on Irish football gets feisty
Dermot Keely says it’s ‘shocking’ that Liverpool’s reserves filled the Aviva Stadium.

FORMER SHELBOURNE MANAGER Dermot Keely issued a harsh rebuke of Irish football fans last night, claiming the majority are only interested in the game as TV entertainment.

Keely’s words came at the beginning of a debate on RTÉ’s flagship Airtricity League show, Soccer Republic, on the heels of Shamrock Rovers’ money-spinning friendly against Liverpool in the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday.

“It’s absolutely shocking,” Keely said. “42,000 morons going to watch Liverpool’s reserve team – they deserve to go, they deserve to pay their money, they deserve anything they get as far as I’m concerned.

“I do not understand how Irish people cannot support an Irish league. It’s beyond me. If you parachuted half that crowd into Liverpool, they wouldn’t be able to find their way to Anfield.”

He added: “You can’t stall it to go the toilet or make a cup of tea! That’s what they’re into now – you’re in here, you watch your tele and you can go on and stall it, go off and come back and you don’t miss any of the match – that’s not football.”

Keely went on to single out Liverpool’s goalkeeper on the day, Brad Jones, for special criticism, pointing to his poor goals against to games ratio while the Australian was on loan at Tolka Park.

“Brad Jones, I let him go 10 years ago – two games, he played. The only games I managed him in, he let in four goals.”

Richie Sadlier was on the other side of the debate, challenging Keely’s assumptions and finding no room to criticise the people who took up seats in Lansdowne Road on Wednesday, adding that the league must improve to attract fans back to Irish football.

“They’re Irish people who like football, who showed up to a match that the team they support played in.

“The notion that Irish people, just by virtue of their Irishness, should support Irish football – that ignores any discussion on things like facilities, or the standard of play or how clubs are run or how attractive the thing is.

“If you simplify it to: ‘you’re Irish, therefore, go.’ It’s far more complex than that. People find far more reasons to attach themselves to a football team other than the fact they play in this country.”

You can watch the debate /row in full on the RTÉ Player online here.

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