ROBBIE KEANE BROUGHT his shooting boots to Pistoia tonight as his first-half brace set Ireland on the road to a 5-0 win against a Tuscan representative XI.
It was a good night as well for the men who would be Keane’s strike partner against Croatia on 10 June with Simon Cox, Shane Long and Jonathan Walters all getting on the scoresheet.
Earlier in the day, most of the talk around the team’s Italian training base in Montecatini centred on Kevin Foley after the Wolves utility man was surprisingly cut from Giovanni Trapattoni’s final 23-man squad in favour of Paul McShane.
Despite his disappointment, Foley defiantly stayed on with the team for tonight’s friendly, quashing any speculation about his fitness with a second-half substitute appearance and an assist for Walters’ goal in the closing minutes.
By that stage, a routine victory for the boys in green was beyond any doubt. After sitting out Saturday’s 1-0 win against Bosnia in Dublin, Cox made a case for his own inclusion with a lively performance alongside Keane in the first half, splitting the captain’s double with a goal of his own to send Ireland in 3-0 up at the break.
Long and Walters came off the bench in the second half to add a goal apiece, the latter coming after Tuscan keeper Francesco Gaffino knocked Foley’s free back into the Stoke striker’s path.
Republic of Ireland: Westwood, McShane, Dunne, St Ledger, Kelly, Hunt, Green, Andrews, McClean, Cox, Keane. Substitutes: Forde (for Westwood), Foley (for Dunne), Long (for McClean), Walters (for Keane), Gibson (for Andrews), Ward (for St Ledger), McGeady, Doyle.