Archive | April, 2016

Dermot Keely: Selective Memory in a rubbish column

27 Apr


I’ve just been emailed a PDF of Dermot Keely’s column in The Irish Sun. Now I suppose alarm bells should have rang given the publication he writes for, particularly given the disgraceful and nauseating behaviour of The Sun across the channel in its “coverage” of yesterday’s Hillsborough Inquests. So I shouldn’t be surprised really at the garbage that Keely was permitted to write about a club he formerly played for and managed, Shamrock Rovers.

Keely opens his boring keyboard gob with “Shamrock Rovers are not a big club and people should stop treating them like one”. Oh really Dermot? What club brings the biggest support to away games every season? What club has won most league titles and FAI Cups? The answer to both of those questions is Shamrock Rovers, surprisingly enough. What club became the first League of Ireland club in history to make the group stages of European football competition when they defeated Partizan Belgrade in heroic and dramatic fashion in 2011 in the Europa League? Surprise surprise Dermo, it was that club Rovers again. That doesn’t sound like “not a big club” to me, or anyone with any semblance of logic.

His biggest paragraph of nonsense however follows later. I quote, “Since winning the four in a row and three consecutive Doubles, when yours truly was there as a player and then Manager from 1983 to 1987, what have they done?” Keely explains factually that there have only been three league titles since then, in 1994, 2010 and 2011. He ignores the more than relevant fact however that there was a fairly good reason for the barren years after the fourth title in a row was won in 1987.

For those of you not old enough to remember or who just don’t know Rovers’ history, when Shamrock Rovers won that fourth successive title in 1987, the then owners of the club, the Kilcoyne Brothers, decided to sell Rovers’ home ground for development and move the club across the River Liffey to the “Stadium of the Future”, Tolka Park. To cut a long and very bitter story relatively short, the overwhelming majority of Rovers fans unequivocally opposed and fought the sale of their beloved Glenmalure Park home and boycotted the “Stadium of the Future”. As a result, the club haemorrhaged what money it had and the wonderful four in a row team broke up when it should have been at its peak.

It is unarguable in my opinion that Shamrock Rovers would have continued to dominate League of Ireland football after 1987 had this disastrous move not been allowed to happen. A portion of Rovers fans never returned to support the club after Glenmalure Park was abandoned and sold by the Kilcoynes. The hated Kilcoynes pretty soon sold the club and left Rovers in an absolutely shambolic and precarious state that successive owners struggled to revive in those barren and homeless years (it would be 22 years before Shamrock Rovers found a permanent home ground again when South Dublin County Council finally stepped in to finish Tallaght Stadium with Rovers its anchor tenants). For Keely to conveniently forget why the team under his management in 1987 broke up is baffling. Maybe he’s bitter towards the Rovers fans whose boycott directly deprived his friends the Kilcoynes of the money required to maintain and further improve the team at that time. Remember, this was a team who thrilled the fans with high quality performances in Europe in the European Cup against Honved and Celtic (when Celtic were half decent) in 1985 and 1986 and defeated strong Arsenal and Manchester United teams in friendly matches in that period also.

It’s no real co-incidence that the regaining of a home ground and the shrewd acquisition by the board of Michael O’Neill as Manager in 2009 immediately revived the club’s fortunes, with O’Neill guiding the club to runners-up in his first year (against all expectations) and then successive triumphs in 2010 and 2011 and culminating in that incredible run to the group stages of the Europa League as mentioned earlier. Rovers were back in every sense of the word. Not a big club Dermot?

I do agree with Keely in his reservations that Gary McCabe was given the club captaincy given McCabe’s brittle temperament in terms of petulance and his stupid red card last week, but that’s probably the only ounce of sense in a piece that quite frankly, he should be embarrassed about given his central involvement with Ireland’s biggest and most successful club in the mid/late 80s.

As I said, alarm bells indeed should’ve rang with me given the newspaper vehicle he uses.

Whether he likes it or not, or anybody for that matter, Shamrock Rovers are the biggest club in the League of Ireland and always will be. They’re not currently the best, far from it and the current Dundalk squad could emulate Keely’s Rovers vintage of 1984-1987 given their brand of football and the opposition they currently face. Rovers’ Cup famine since 1987 is as baffling as it is frustrating, but his opening paragraph should, like the Sun’s front page in 1989, have been deleted. He finished his piece by remembering a dugout disagreement in a friendly match between him and George Graham and David O’Leary’s remark to Graham about Keely, put Keely “back in my box”. I would suggest he returns to it permanently after a woeful column such as today’s.