Sunday, January 30, 2011

Robbie Keane joins West Ham

West Ham chairman David Gold says the club have agreed a deal to sign Tottenham's Irish striker Robbie Keane on loan until the end of the season.

The Hammers have brought in the Ireland record goalscoring international with a view to making the deal permanent at the end of the campaign.

"We're delighted to sign a world class striker," Gold said after their FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest.

"Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy drives a hard bargain but we've got our man."

They are expected on Monday to officially unveil Keane, who attended the Hammers' 3-2 win over Forest and will earn in the region of £70,000-a-week.

Keane joins Ba and earlier arrivals Wayne Bridge, on loan from Manchester City, and Gary O'Neil, from Middlesbrough, at West Ham during what has been a busy transfer window.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ritchie Branagan following in his father's footsteps

Ritchie Branagan is not only following in his father's footsteps by carving out a career as a professional goalkeeper, but his first call-up to the Ireland Under-21 squad follows the career path of his father Keith, who represented Ireland in goal in 1997.

Ireland Under-21 manager Noel King announced a 19 man squad, including Branagan, for the upcoming U21 International friendly against Cyprus, which will take place on Wednesday, February 9 at the GSZ Stadium in Larnaca.

19 year-old Branagan ‘Junior ‘ caught the eye of the FAI after breaking into the Bury starting eleven in November last year when he made his Football League debut.

And while the Ritchie and Keith Branagan story may draw comparisons with the goalkeeping father and son pairing of Peter and Kasper Schmeichel or the other Irish father and son pairing of Denis and Liam Irwin, the young keeper is determined to carve out his own successful career and wants to be talked about for his own exploits as he plots a path to the top.

Speaking about his Father Keith, Ritchie said : “He has been there for me throughout my scholarship and he does give me advice.

“I have got natural shot-stopping ability, like my dad, but I have a lot to work on. I am only 18 and I just want to progress so that when I get my chance I am ready.”

Keith Branagan, spent his most successful years at Bolton Wanderers where he experienced three promotions, played two seasons in the Premier League and played at Wembley in the 1995 League Cup final. Injury forced his retirement in 2002 while playing for Ipswich but he was lucky enough to earn one senior Irish international cap for Ireland when he played against Wales in a competitive friendly in Cardiff in 1997.

Only time will tell if Ritchie Branagan progresses to Irish senior international level and pulls on the No.1 shirt, just as his father once did.

Plymouth losing battle to hold talented young Irish striker

Plymouth Argyle face a fight to hold onto their talented 19-year-old Irish striker Joe Mason.

Manager Peter Reid has revealed a number of clubs have inquired about Mason and while Reid is desperate to see the Ireland under-21 international stay at Home Park, the Pilgrims' financial plight could force them into a reluctant sale. Mason signed a two-year extension to his contract last January.

Reid said: "In an ideal world, Joe Mason certainly isn't a player I would like to lose because he has got great potential.

"I think he has showed that recently. He has been terrific while he has got a run in the side, playing in that position in the hole off the front man."

Mason has scored three goals since the start of 2011, with one coming in the 3-2 win at Bristol Rovers on January 4.

Then, a week later, the former Pilgrims' apprentice netted twice in the 3-2 defeat away to Huddersfield Town.

He played much of that match as a lone striker after the early dismissal of defender Curtis Nelson.

Reid said: "I thought Joe was outstanding at Huddersfield when he went up top by himself and was getting in between the centre-halves.

"It was a very mature performance from the young man, to be perfectly honest."

Plymouth born Mason qualifies to represent Ireland via his mother who comes from County Mayo. He represented Ireland at Under-18 level before being called up to the Under-19's and eventually making his Under-21 debut in September last year against Switzerland.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Richie Towell makes Hibs loan move

Hibernian have signed highly rated Irish youth international Richie Towell on loan from Celtic, and he may find himself thrown straight into the deep end for tonight's SPL clash with Rangers.

Dublin born Towell has been a regular on the Celtic bench this season and made his debut in a 2-2 draw with Inverness in November. The former Crumlin United player can operate in defence or midfield and has been signed until the end of the current season.

"I want to make an impact in the team and help Hibernian climb up the table," said the 19-year-old. "It would be brilliant to make my debut against Rangers. Games don't come any bigger than that. The time with Hibernian will be massive for my development. I trained for the first time with the squad and everything is really positive."

Hibs manager Colin Calderwood said: "Richie caught our attention when we played against Celtic in a bounce match. He will help to freshen up our squad and will be a good addition between now and the end of the season."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Trapattoni voices concern over Keane's Ireland position

Irish boss Giovanni Trapattoni has spoken for the first time about Robbie Keane’s position as first-choice Irish striker and captain being under possible threat.

Announcing the 29 player squad for the February Carling Cup game against Wales, the Ireland manager said he was "disappointed" that Keane had yet to find a new club and expressed the hope that the Spurs striker still had time to sort out his club future and get back playing on a regular basis.

But while Trapattoni indicated that Keane would benefit from the boost of being selected to play against Wales, his longer-term future in an Ireland shirt now appears much less certain, with even his chances of playing the full game in the Euro Championship qualifier against Macedonia in March dependent on the amount of game time he might get between now and the game.

"If Robbie does not find a club, we can evaluate other options before the qualifying game," said Trapattoni. "We need players with rhythm, mentality, condition. There are situations that might still be open to Robbie. I said to him that all that is important is that he gets a move and plays. It’s not important if he plays Premiership, Championship or in Europe — he could even go to America.

"I don’t know if it’s true if he had an opportunity to go to Birmingham but I do hope now that he immediately gets a move. It’s important that he plays."

Trapattoni would only reluctantly drop his talisman and said that he must balance the issue of Keane’s lack of match sharpness against the effect of the loss of such an experienced player.

"At this moment we can only wait and hope that he immediately gets a move," he said. "Yes, we can make a change but it’s always dangerous to put too much weight on the shoulders of young players. Robbie and Shay Given are not only famous players but great players — although the position of a goalkeeper is different. But we need these two players.

"And the young players also need the older players, because it helps give them added security. I know this from when I was a young player myself. You need balance in the squad. But at the same time, we have Kevin Doyle and Shane Long. And the game against Wales is a good opportunity to evaluate our other options. So, yes, certainly I can start thinking about what we have after Keane but we also have to keep him in mind."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ireland squad named for Carling clash with Wales

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has named his squad for the Carling Nations Cup opening game against Wales which takes place in Aviva stadium on Tuesday February 8.

Included in the squad is Ciarán Clark who will report for duty for the first time having been ruled out of the Norway friendly due to injury. The squad will meet up on Sunday February 6 and will prepare for their first game of 2011.

Giovanni Trapattoni said, “I am looking forward to the opening game of the Carling Nations Cup against Wales. This competition provides our players with familiar and tough opponents and the added competitive edge to the tournament is the perfect preparation for our EURO qualifying campaign. “




St Ledger
S Kelly





Westwood is Premiership quality

QPR boss Neil Warnock has praised Keiren Westwood - and says the Coventry City star is a better goalkeeper than many of the Premier League shot-stoppers.

The Ireland international had a superb game as the Sky Blues lost a tight game to Warnock's side at Loftus Road yesterday.

And Warnock believes the Irish goal stopper is already better than many keepers in the top flight.

He told Talk Sport: "Westwood was excellent today. I put him head and shoulders above many keepers in the Premier League."

Westwood made his first international appearance for Ireland in a friendly against Nigeria in May 2009 as is tipped as the natural replacement for Shay Given, when his international career comes to an end.

Westwood has been the focus of recent transfer speculation with a number of Premiership clubs keeping tabs on the progress of the 26 year old.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Coleman delighted with new Everton contract

Ireland international Séamus Coleman is hoping to celebrate his new improved contract with a win against West Ham this weekend.

The young Donegal born midfielder says he is keen to keep impressing after signing a four-and-a-half year deal.

Coleman extended his stay on Merseyside until at least 2015; the latest in a series good news stories since he arrived from Sligo Rovers in January 2009.

But the 22-year-old Killybegs right winger has been sensational this season, and he believes the new contract is the reward for his hard work.

"I'm over the moon to sign the contract, my aim was to keep impressing after every contract and this new one proves that I've been doing well," Coleman told evertontv.

"I just want to keep going now. When I came over first it was a two-year contract and I treated it as a trial," he added.

"I got a new one whilst I was at Blackpool, and to get another one so quickly was a surprise because that's three in a short space of time."

Coleman has endeared himself to the Blues fans with his all-action displays since breaking into the first team.

And he says he will continue to put in the maximum amount of effort even when he's not at his marauding best on the Everton right flank.

"When I go out on the pitch I get my head down and I have a go," said Coleman.

"Even if it's not going well for me on the ball, I'll keep running around and giving it 100 per cent and the fans appreciate that."

Coleman scored against Saturday's opponents West Ham when the sides met at Upton Park in December.

Everton were far from their best that day in East London, and Coleman knows the Blues must perform well to record a second successive home win despite the Hammers being stuck at the base of the Premiership table.

"The Premier League this season is so tight and everyone is beating everyone apart from United at the top," continued Coleman.

"You can't take anything for granted and West Ham aren't going so well and they are going to be fighting for it but we need the points at Goodison."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Marc Wilson eager to take midfield chance

Irish international Marc Wilson believes he is ready to try and gate-crash Stoke’s central midfield between now and the end of the season.

But he admits the successful Rory Delap/Dean Whitehead combination may remain a tough nut to crack.

That pair recently enjoyed eight successive Premier League games on the trot, but an enforced reshuffle at Manchester United and an FA Cup tie against Cardiff has left Wilson starting the last two games to much acclaim.

“It is always good whenever the fans appreciate you,” said the 23-year-old Irishman from County Antrim, “and it was great that the manager should give me the shout to play.

“I hadn’t played a full 90 minutes before the game at Old Trafford, so after 80 minutes I was feeling it a little bit. But it was great to be out there.

“Every player obviously wants to be in the team every week if he can and hopefully I can do that, but to be fair to Rory and Dean have been doing really well.”

Wilson, who joined four months ago as part of the deal that took Dave Kitson to Portsmouth, has proved easy on the eye with his natural ability on the ball.

But he acknowledges there has been work to do on the defensive side of his game to meet the requirements demanded at Stoke.

“The manager has done a great job in getting all the players playing together,” he said, “and he likes the team really solid first and foremost.

“It has taken a bit of adjusting to for me, but I think I’m getting used to it now.”

WIlson has also attracted the interest of Ireland international manager Giovanni Trapattoni and may play some part in the upcoming Celtic cup game against Wales in Dublin next month. Wilson was drafted into the Ireland squad for their crucial European qualifying double-header against Russia and Slovakia last October, but failed to get off the bench on that occasion.

“I’ve been in the last few squads and I’d love to play for my country,” he said.

“Getting a game for Ireland would be an unbelievable achievement, but I think the manager wants all his players playing week in, week out for their clubs.”

Friday, January 14, 2011

Spurs accept Birmingham bid for Keane

Birmingham have had a £6million bid accepted by Tottenham for Ireland striker Robbie Keane, according to reports this evening.

City have reached agreement with Spurs to pay an initial £4 million for the Dublin born Ireland international.

But this could rise by additional £2million via various add-ons and clauses in the deal.

Sources close to Birmingham insist any potential deal for Keane is still in its infancy.

Birmingham have been given permission to hold talks with Keane. But the former Liverpool player has yet to discuss personal terms with the midlands club.

City manager Alex McLeish is a known admirer of Keane, who has been told he can leave White Hart Lane after slipping down the pecking order.

McLeish has continually stressed the need for Birmingham to sign a quality striker.

He is aware a lack of goals has seen them become embroiled in a Barclays Premier League relegation battle this season. Midfielder Craig Gardner is their leading marksman with just five goals.

If Keane does move to St Andrew's he will join up with winger David Bentley, who has moved from Spurs on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

Keane spent the second half of last season on loan at Celtic and has had only a bit part role at Spurs this season.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

James McCarthy back in training after ligament damage

Ireland and Wigan midfield sensation James McCarthy has revealed that he has resumed training and expects to be back in action by the end of January.

The 20-year-old is recovering from serious ligament damage suffered in the Premier League clash with Bolton in October last year.

"I can't wait to get back," the midfielder admitted to the club's official website.
"My biggest problem has been trying to do too much too quickly, and the physios are always having to tell me to slow down!

"I'm hoping to be back for the Arsenal game towards the end of the month. I'm not 100 per cent sure, but that's definitely the target I've set for myself.

"I've started kicking the ball and hopefully this week I'll get more involved in the rest of the training."

With Di Santo and Moses also on the road to recovery for Wigan, McCarthy believes all three players can make a big impact in the second half of the season.

"The manager has been saying it'll be like having three new signings, and hopefully we can all make an impact.

"We're sitting in the relegation zone now, where we definitely don't want to be, and we need to try and kick the team on."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Carling Nations Cup - Ireland v Wales tickets on sale

The Football Association of Ireland today announced that tickets for the forthcoming Carling Nations Cup match against Wales in Aviva Stadium on February 8 will go on sale on Monday through and the FAI Umbro stores in Carrolls Westmoreland St and Suffolk St, Dublin.

Tickets for neutral supporters attending the clash between Nigel Worthington's IFA team V Scotland, Carling Nations Cup match on February 9 will also go on sale through from this Monday, January 10. All tickets for this match will be priced at €20.

Trapattoni said at the initial launch of the competition: 'The Carling Nations Cup is a tournament that we would very much like to win, particularly playing at home in Dublin.

'The matches will provide us with a good opportunity to see our players in games with a real competitive edge at an important time in our bid to qualify for 2012.'

Ireland v Wales, Carling Nations Cup Aviva Stadium, February 8.

General Admission ticket details
Category B - €35
Category A - €50


Feb 8: Ireland v Wales
Feb 9: IFA team v Scotland
May 23: Ireland v IFA team
May 24: Wales v Scotland
May 26: Wales v IFA team
May 27: Ireland v Scotland

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Birmingham confirm Robbie Keane talks

Birmingham City are in talks with Ireland & Spurs striker Robbie Keane over a possible move to St Andrew's, the club have confirmed.

Blues boss Alex McLeish has made it clear signing a quality forward is his number one priority during the current transfer window.

Keane is the player City are most actively pursuing, although the club are adamant reports he has already undergone a medical are wide of the mark.

It is not clear whether any deal for the Dublin born Ireland international would be permanent or a short-term arrangement.

But sources close to Birmingham indicate a full-time move - in the region of £6million - could be a possibility.

Keane has slipped down the pecking order at White Hart Lane and is desperate to play regular first-team football. He has also recently been linked with a move to relegation-threatened West Ham.

Birmingham's lack of goal power has been the main reason why they have been locked in a survival battle during the first half of the season.

Midfielder Craig Gardner is the top scorer with just five goals and McLeish has become frustrated by his side's inability to convert their chances.

McLeish spent £6million in the summer on Serbia international Nikola Zigic but the former Valencia player is still coming to terms with the demands of the Premier League.

Cameron Jerome has failed to reproduce the form which brought him 11 Premier League goals last season while Kevin Phillips is now at the veteran age of 37.

Keane spent the second half of last season on loan at Glasgow Celtic

Long staying with the Royals despite Hammers interest

Ireland striker Shane Long has pledged his immediate future to Reading after another match winning performance by the in-form .

Long took his tally to six goals in his last five games with a brace in the 2-1 win over Burnley last weekend.

The Tipperary born Irish international assured Royals fans that he has no plans to leave during the January transfer window, despite strong rumours that West Ham boss Avram Grant is keen on bringing Long to Upton Park to help secure the Hammers Premiership position.

He told the Reading Evening Post: "There's always rumours going around and there were a lot in the summer as well.

"I'm enjoying my football here at Reading at the moment and I know this team is destined for big things and I want to be a part of that. I just have to concentrate on my own game and what will be will be.

"These things happen if you're scoring goals, but I'm just enjoying my football. I want to be part of a good Reading side right now."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cunningham suffers leg break for Leicester

Ireland and Leicester left-back Greg Cunningham, on loan from Manchester City, suffered a broken leg after in his side's 1-0 victory over Hull City this Saturday.

Galway born Cunningham suffered the break as a result of Liam Rosenior's late tackle on 62 minutes, which earnt him a red card.

Leicester manager Sven-Goran Eriksson commented: 'It's a broken tibia, which could mean he is probably away for four months. He is in hospital right now and I guess he will undergo an operation today or tomorrow.

'It is important to say that as far as Rosenior was concerned, it was not stupid. It was bad luck and he didn't mean to do it, so there should be no shadow over him.'

Hull manager Nigel Pearson insisted there was no malice in Rosenior's tackle on Cunningham: 'It is obviously regrettable and you never like to see players have a serious injury. We wish the player a speedy recovery.

'Liam's distraught; it was just slightly mistimed with two players going for the ball. It would be wrong of me to complain about something like the red card and I have no complaints about it.

'It was very unfortunate as it didn't look ridiculously high.

'There was no malice in the challenge. If you know the player you'd be very aware of that.'