Former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland player and assistant manager Roy Keane has paid tribute to his former club Cobh Ramblers as it continues its centenary celebrations.
The 51-year-old, who is on World Cup punditry duty for ITV in Qatar, was inducted in to the Cobh Ramblers' Hall of Fame last Friday night.
Keane is the most famous player to wear the claret and blue strip. He was a player at the club for a year from 1989 until 1990 when he moved to England to play for Nottingham Forest.
During ITV World Cup coverage on Saturday night Keane was shown an old picture of himself during his time at Cobh Ramblers. He said that his period at the club was very enjoyable.
“I had one year with Cobh Ramblers which was brilliant. A great education for me and they are a hundred years old this year, so well done to them. A real help to me in my career, and I’m very grateful to them for that.
"I’ve always said I’ve been very lucky in my career and going to Cobh for the year was a great help for me in terms of my development.”
Meanwhile, Cobh Ramblers said that Roy's arrival at Ramblers owed its occurrence to the establishment of the inaugural FAI FÁS Youth Scheme in 1989, a joint programme between the Irish government and the FAI.
"Each League of Ireland side was invited to send one young player on the course, and a good friend of Roy’s, Len Downey, had informed him that Cork City were sending him on their course as their representative.
"Roy had just signed a form committing to Cork City and, knowing that Cork’s spot on the FÁS course was gone, he was left distraught. Ramblers’ youth coach Eddie O’Rourke contacted Roy the day after he had signed for City, to see if he would be interested in joining Cobh.
"Eddie was well-aware of Keane’s talents from the youngster’s Rockmount days and knew he would be a beneficial addition to the club.
"Eddie was unaware that Roy had joined Cork just the day previous. Determined to get his man, O’Rourke rang the FAI to see if his registration had gone through. Cork City had held off on sending the form in order to send Roy’s with that of another a few days later.
"With Roy assured of Ramblers’ spot on the FÁS course the deal was done and Ramblers sent the transfer form to the FAI in Dublin by express post."
Well...this was unexpected.
Nice to get a shout out for our Centenary on @ITVSport this evening during their World Cup coverage.
You know what they say... Once a Ram, always a Ram. #Rams100 🐏 #Keano 💪 pic.twitter.com/4uTyjwTLJ9
— Cobh Ramblers FC (@CobhRamblersFC) November 26, 2022
His Cobh senior debut came on August 13th 1989 in Buckley Park as the Rams went down 2-0 to Kilkenny City in the Opel League Cup.
First team manager Liam McMahon gave Roy his league debut on November 5th that year, in a 2-1 victory over Bray. That season he would make 29 senior appearances as Cobh finished seventh. His two goals came against St Francis and Finn Harps.
While Roy was heavily involved with the first team during that 1989/90 season, he remained eligible for O’Rourke’s U18 side who had made excellent progress in that season’s U'18 National Cup.
Belvedere had been drawn at home in the quarter-finals, with the replay taking place on February 18th, 1990 in Dublin.
"A disappointing 4-0 loss for Ramblers was tough to take but after the game chairman John O’Rourke informed young Keane that Nottingham Forest scout Noel McCabe was at the game and had been impressed enough with his performance in the middle of the park, in spite of the result, to invite Roy on a trial. After two trials Brian Clough had seen enough to merit signing the Mayfield man and negotiations with Ramblers commenced."
With negotiations complete Roy left Cobh in the summer of 1990. The club say that Roy never forgot his roots at Ramblers and remains a familiar face at St Colman's Park to this day.
"His contribution to our fundraising efforts over the years cannot be understated. In 2004 Roy brought Manchester United to a sold-out Turners Cross to face Cobh Ramblers.
"Four years later, as manager, he brought his Sunderland side to Cork for another friendly. In 2017, Roy was once again on hand to help raise funds for the club, when the Silver Springs Hotel played host to an ‘Audience with Roy Keane’.
"While Roy’s time on the pitch with us was short, he has always remained a Rambler and the support and guidance he has continued to offer to the club has not been forgotten."