Soccer Scene

Preview: Republic of Ireland - Norway
30.04.2003 at 00:00 - Lansdowne Road

Richard Dunne yesterday spoke of his determination to repay the trust placed in him by Kevin Keegan and Brian Kerr after being named in the Republic of Ireland side to play Norway at Lansdowne Road tonight (7.30).

Dunne was restored to the Manchester City defence by Keegan in recent weeks and his recall to the Irish back four offers the 23 year-old Dubliner an opportunity to finish his mixed season on a high note. It is an opportunity he does not intend to waste.

“Once you get your chance you have to go and prove you deserve it. Now it’s up to me.”

Dunne was a teenage sensation for Kerr when he played in defence alongside Gary Doherty and John O’Shea at under-age level. He looked set for the big-time when he was signed by Joe Royle for Everton but his career was in jeopardy when he ran into disciplinary problems with Royle’s successor, Walter Smith.

Smith sold him to Manchester City and again in the course of this season Dunne ran into problems with Keegan amid suggestions that his lifestyle was less than ideal for a professional athlete.

A crisis meeting with Keegan led to a change of direction and a new awakening for Dunne. Now he follows a strict no-alcohol diet and the result is a leaner, more focused individual intent on fulfilling his rich potential.

“Kevin Keegan has been great for me. He stood by me through a lot of things in the two seasons he’s been with us. Last year I played more games than anyone and this year I’ve played 24 so he’s always been fair and given me a chance.”

Keegan clearly saw the same potential in the rugged defender that was recognised by Kerr at under-age level and by Mick McCarthy who handed Dunne his first senior cap when Ireland played Greece at Lansdowne Road in a friendly on April 26, 2000.

He made the last of his international appearances, curiously enough, against Greece in Athens on February 12. In between times he made a huge contribution to Ireland’s qualifying campaign for the World Cup finals in critical matches against Netherlands, in Amsterdam and Dublin, and against Portugal in Lisbon. But he did not play in the finals or in Ireland’s four European Championship qualifiers.

In recent months, however, he worked assiduously at Maine Road where manager Keegan took a special interest, bringing him back for extra training in the afternoons and working personally with him.

Said Dunne: “I had to change my lifestyle. After the Greece game was when everything changed around and I suppose it’s been a learning experience for me as well off the field. It’s been a whole new lifestyle for me but it seems to have done me good so I’m going to stick with it.”

Such a commitment was music to the ears of Kerr, who has been working hard to plug the gaps left by the sequence of retirements by senior members of the squad since the World Cup.

Kerr used Dunne as an example to illustrate what upset him when the fans booed the team on their last competitive appearance at Lansdowne Road, when they lost to Switzerland in October. He pointed to the achievements of the powerful defender while calling on the fans to offer more positive support for the team against Norway.

He said: “Think of Richard’s situation coming back into the team. He’s not been in the last few matches but he’s played in some huge matches for the country and he’s had some great games.

“He played left-back in Greece and I think he got ‘man of the match’ and he’s been an exceptional underage player and he’s one of those players who is there on the fringes of the team. He’s had a fair bit of experience and he is one of those we are going to need in the future and they need every encouragement from everyone.

“Rather than people looking to find fault with the players they should be looking at some of them saying ‘they’ve done a lot at 22 and 23, they’ve achieved a fair bit already’.

“In years gone by many players didn’t get a first cap until they were 23 and these fellows have good experience already. They’ve shown in the heat of battle - as Richard did in the matches against Holland - that they can do their stuff when it’s required.”


H / A / N Matches W D L Goals + / -
H 9 4 3 2 16 - 11 +5
A 10 3 5 2 14 - 10 +4
N 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 +0
Total 19 7 8 4 30 - 21 +9

Date&time Comp. H / A / N Final score
17.11.2022 at 19:45 Friendly H 1 - 2
17.11.2010 at 19:45 Friendly H 1 - 2
20.08.2008 at 18:00 Friendly A 1 - 1
30.04.2003 at 00:00 Friendly H 1 - 0
28.06.1994 at 00:00 World Cup Finals A 0 - 0
01.06.1988 at 00:00 Friendly A 0 - 0
01.05.1985 at 00:00 World Cup Qualifier H 0 - 0
17.10.1984 at 00:00 World Cup Qualifier A 0 - 1
21.05.1978 at 00:00 Friendly A 0 - 0
24.03.1976 at 00:00 Friendly H 3 - 0
06.06.1973 at 00:00 Friendly A 1 - 1
13.05.1964 at 00:00 Friendly A 4 - 1
06.11.1960 at 00:00 Friendly H 3 - 1
25.05.1955 at 00:00 Friendly A 3 - 1
07.11.1954 at 00:00 Friendly H 2 - 1
30.05.1951 at 00:00 Friendly A 3 - 2
26.11.1950 at 00:00 Friendly H 2 - 2
07.11.1937 at 00:00 World Cup Qualifier H 3 - 3
10.10.1937 at 00:00 World Cup Qualifier A 2 - 3
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