Ken Doherty: The Day I Hopped A Ball For Roy Keane Going For A Pizza At Snooker Finals

by Gazette Reporter
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The Premier League is back in full swing and isn’t it funny how it dominates so many lives here in Ireland?

Two of the biggest teams from an Irish support point of view went head-to-head at Old Trafford the other night and the country was polarised in different shades of Red.

I’ve been a Manchester United fan since I was a kid and I must say there were few victories I cherished more than the 2-1 win over Liverpool (our greatest rivals) this week.

Isn’t it funny how we love our own Gaelic football teams yet so many of us have ‘allegiances’ to United, Liverpool, City, Chelsea, Everton, Spurs, Arsenal, Celtic etc.? Some of my dyed-in-the-wool GAA fans say it doesn’t make sense, but that’s what sport does for you.

United fans were wearing their chins on the pavement after the 2-1 and 4-0 losses to the Brighton and Brentford in the first two games of the season… this week, at least until the Southampton game away, there is a spring back in their step.

Speaking of United, Roy Keane may have left there following his row with Alex Ferguson some 16 years ago, but for many he is still THE Man in United. With Sky Sports, he is the ‘go to’ pundit for the big matches even though Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher are full-time workers with the station.

 Roy was and always will be the standard setter for those who play in Old Trafford. You only had to look at how Ronaldo, Casemiro and later Ten Hag himself walked over to greet him ahead of all the others to know how he is regarded.

I mentioned all this by way of saying that I am really looking forward to catching up with the former red and green skipper here in Dublin on September 2 in the Aviva Stadium.  Stephanie Roche, Roy and myself are a panel at a lunch-time charity gig which involves former Dublin great Bernard Brogan as well.

Roy is a big snooker follower and we have often met either at big occasions in Sheffield or because of my allegiance to United at Old Trafford. I remember the two of us went with two mates to the Crucible one year for a World Championship final and at the break we decided we’d go out and get a pizza.

Trying walking down a street with Roy beside you! Everyone was stopping him, looking for his autograph or a selfie. And despite his fearsome reputation, he is a very sweet and gentle person with genuine fans.

By the time we got to the pizza place, he was worn out and the place was jammed. You should have seen his face when I called out to the proprietor, who I knew: “Can we have a table for four…OUTSIDE.”

He gave me one of those strike-you-dead looks at the thought of being a prime target while trying to eat his meal but once he saw the twinkle in both the owner and my eyes, that big, winsome smile lit up his face.

There is never a dull moment around Roy and I’m really looking forward to catching up with him on Friday week.

Before I finish, I want to salute our athletes on the great showing all of them produced at the European Championship last week, particularly to Ciara Mageean who was magnificent in winning the silver and Mark English, who collected a well-earned bronze. The Olympics is now two years away and is a bigger stage but I’m hopeful our sprinters will continue to progress and we will have a few great spectacles to anticipate from Paris in 2024.

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