Roy Keane picked as Ireland's best captain with Denis Irwin also hailed in new survey

Cork icons were key figures in the 1994 World Cup under Jack Charlton
Roy Keane picked as Ireland's best captain with Denis Irwin also hailed in new survey

Roy Keane and Denis Irwin catch up with a special Sunday World Cup edition of the Examiner. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

ROY Keane and Denis Irwin, Cork's greatest-ever soccer players and among the best to pull on the green geansaí, got to feature at the World Cup in 1994.

Stephen Kenny's current crop aren't at the World Cup and look a bit off the standard required based on recent results. More is the pity, despite all the controversy about the location, with such a strong Leeside presence involved over the past 12 months, including John Egan, Caoimhín Kelleher, Conor Hourihane, Chiedozie Ogbene, Adam Idah and Alan Browne.

Keane and Irwin, bonafide Man United legends, feature in new research carried out by Ladbrokes.

Roy Keane in action for the Republic of Ireland against Mexico in the World Cup '94. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Roy Keane in action for the Republic of Ireland against Mexico in the World Cup '94. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Keane has been given national treasure status among fans with the Corkonian midfielder voted as the preferred Irish captain since 1990, with 43% of the vote. Mick McCarthy was Keane’s nearest competition for the favourite captain title, with 21% of the vote.

Ladbrokes also asked football fans to vote for Ireland’s best five-a-side team. Once again, Keane ran away with the vote as the favourite Irish midfielder past and present, with 59% of those surveyed voting in his favour. Robbie Keane came out top as the pick up-front with 38% of the vote.

Other big names in the favourite Irish five-a-side team include Packie Bonner as goalkeeper (44%) and Paul McGrath (46%) in the defender’s category.

While Roy Keane was well celebrated for his pitch displays, the jury is still out over the infamous Saipan debacle, with just over a quarter (27%) of adults believing that he was right to leave the Irish camp in Saipan in 2002 and just over a third (34%) believing it was the wrong decision.

Roy Keane with Republic of Ireland assistant manager Maurice Setters at the World Cup. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Roy Keane with Republic of Ireland assistant manager Maurice Setters at the World Cup. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Nicola McGeady of Ladbrokes said: 

"As far as Irish fans are concerned Roy Keane is one of the greatest of all time, being voted as our favourite captain and favourite midfielder past and present. Despite cementing his legend status for his on-pitch displays, it seems fans are still split on Saipan!"

The more things change the more they stay the same!

Preferred Irish captain since 1990 

43% Roy Keane 

21% Mick McCarthy 

13% Robbie Keane 

8% Seamus Coleman 

7% Andy Townsend 

4% Steve Staunton 

4% Kenny Cunningham 

Ireland’s best five-a-side team 

Goalkeepers:

44% Packie Bonner 

33% Shay Given 

9% Alan Kelly 

7% Darren Randolph 

6% Caoimhin Kelleher 

 Defenders:

46% Paul McGrath 

27% Mick McCarthy 

25% Denis Irwin 

Denis Irwin with Alan Kelly and Tony Cascarino shelter from a thunderstorm at Orlando during World Cup '94. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Denis Irwin with Alan Kelly and Tony Cascarino shelter from a thunderstorm at Orlando during World Cup '94. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

22% John O’Shea 

20% David O’Leary 

17% Steve Staunton 

15% Richard Dunne 

12% Seamus Coleman 

8% Steve Finnan 

8% Ian Harte 

Midfielders/Forwards:

59% Roy Keane 

38% Robbie Keane 

19% Liam Brady 

19% Damien Duff 

18% Niall Quinn 

18% Ray Houghton 

14% Johnny Giles 

7% Kevin Doyle 

6% Frank Stapleton 

3% Clinton Morrisson 

Was Roy Keane right to leave the Irish camp in Saipan in 2002? 

27% Yes 

34% No 

39% Don’t know

Poll results were based on an Empathy Research survey of 1,000 Irish fans, commissioned by Ladbrokes. 

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