By Mark Jones
DUBLIN — Ireland’s soccer captain, Roy Keane, has been named the 2001 FAI Player of the Year on the back of a series of brilliant performances during the qualifying games for this summer’s World Cup finals.
Keane, who is also likely to sign a three-year deal with his club, Manchester United, which will keep him with the English champions until 2005, leads the Irish into the first of the World Cup buildup games against Russia at Lansdowne Road today, Wednesday.
For once, manager Mick McCarthy has a near complete deck to choose from, with only Steven Reid of Millwall likely to miss the game because of injury. McCarthy’s other worries concern several players who are not currently seeing first-team action with their English clubs. Robbie Keane and Gary Kelly are currently out of favor at Leeds, while Kevin Kilbane is not a regular selection at Sunderland. However, his evergreen teammate, Niall Quinn, scored the winning goal against Derby last weekend.
Roy Keane was named as Player of the year for the second time, joining Paul McGrath as the only international to have won the award on two occasions. Damien Duff won the young player award. Reid rounded off a good year with the under 21 award.