Keano looking forward to England clash – not backwards to calamity
Roy Keane will be looking forward rather than to the past when the Republic of Ireland and England meet in Dublin for the first time in 20 years today.
The game will be the first between the two nations in the city since rioting travelling fans caused the abandonment of a friendly at Lansdowne Road in February, 1995.
However, while the fixture is important for what it represents off the pitch, it is even more so in assistant manager Keane’s eyes – because of what it means in terms of preparation for next Saturday’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium.
He said: “It’s just a good game for us to look forward to. If you are a footballing person, it’s a good game for the players, the preparation for the Scotland game, England have a lot of good players, so have we.
“I wouldn’t be one for looking too far back. Again, it’s all about looking forward to the games coming up. The priority is trying to get the team right, get a good edge to our play.
“I’m pretty sure it will be a decent atmosphere in preparation for what is our priority, trying to get a result against Scotland. But you can tell everyone is looking forward to it, all the players. We can’t wait.
“But in terms of what happened 20 years ago, you have just got to try to look forward. England, we obviously want to turn them over.”
That infamous night came during a period when Jack Charlton’s Ireland had more than matched their near neighbours for some time, famously beating them 1-0 in Stuttgart at the Euro ’88 finals, courtesy of Ray Houghton’s header.
Despite the fact that the sides have met just once during the ensuing two decades – a 1-1 friendly draw at Wembley two summers ago – the rivalry remains as intense as ever.