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Keeping connected with iKeane

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Robbie Keane celebrates after scoring his first goal for the LA Galaxy last Saturday.
There are certain things you have to do as you approach 50, and there are probably plenty of people out there who will claim that buying an iPhone is one of them.

It’s the coolest thing in the world apparently, at least that’s what my kids told me when the subject came up quite recently and my humble cell phone headed for the bin.

Persuaded to do so by those hardly old enough to know any better, I did invest in the Apple revolution quite recently myself -- not due to the fact that I am only a little less than 30 months away from the half century, more due to necessity.

I am now what we like to call a freelance journalist, one of many people here in Ireland whose staff job has bitten the dust kicked up by the fleeing Celtic Tiger.
When an acquaintance asked me to sum up what it all means the other day -- all work and no pay I laughed -- I also told him all about my iPhone. But, I swear, I’m not obsessed with it.

The iPhone is now a necessary part of my world simply because it keeps me in touch with the outside world.  Everything bar phone calls are just brilliant with it.

I’ll give you an example. When Robbie Keane was first linked with the LA Galaxy two Friday nights ago, I was sitting in a cinema in Blanchardstown awaiting the brilliant comedy that is The Guard.

The popcorn bag was still full and the sight of Brendan Gleeson in his y-front underpants -- you have to see it -- was a good 20 minutes away when the first texts came through.

By the time the movie had started, a swift email had been sent to Irish Central headquarters in Manhattan and our sister website was on the Robbie for the MLS case, as they say.

By the end of the movie, I had somehow managed to file a full 10 pars to the Irish Examiner, updated the great Niall O’Dowd on what was happening and laughed my considerable sides off at Gleeson and his merry mates in the West of Ireland comedy.

And all thanks to the wonderful iPhone, the same iPhone I was cursing somewhere around 6 a.m. last Sunday morning when a “former” friend of mine sent me a text message acclaiming the wonder that is Robbie Keane.

You can guess how the text arrived. I had left the aforementioned iPhone on charge and forget to power it off, or hit the mute button, so when Eamonn Toal, the singer, decided to alert me to the news of Robbie’s debut goal for a Galaxy far away, he also woke me.

Being a bit of a singer, a bit enough to have sung for Ireland in the 2000 Eurovision which probably qualifies him to run in the forthcoming presidential election, Eamonn is used to being up that late -- or that early I suppose depending on which way you want to look at.

Our Eamonn, from Castleblayney originally but now part of the furniture around Dunshaughlin, is also a Robbie Keane fan. Like me, and we have discussed this at length, he can’t understand why Robbie gets so much stick.

“Hey, hey, Keano scores on debut,” texted Eamonn with an addendum for the Robbie begrudgers that we’ll keep to ourselves.

By Sunday, when we met rather briefly in our great village, Eamonn had watched several re-runs of Keane’s goal against the San Jose Earthquake courtesy of YouTube, something I have done myself since on my iPhone.

He had also watched the pre and post match press conferences, analyzed the latest assist from David Beckham and bought a Keane Galaxy jersey for football mad son Tommy thanks to the wonder that is the Internet.

So while Robbie Keane may be thousands of miles from Tallaght-fornia in California, he is actually close to hand as far as Eamonn, myself and all other technology lovers here in Ireland are concerned.

I have no doubts there will be many more text messages to come from Eamonn regarding Robbie, and I look forward to them.

Next time, however, I’ll know where the mute button is on the phone which is great news for my sleeping patterns.

What’s also great is a little app on my phone which allows me to get the weather forecast for any city or town in the world.

As I wrote this column, on Tuesday night, it was 28 degrees Celsius in Los Angeles and only 18 degrees in Leicester.  Maybe that’s why Robbie Keane chose the Galaxy over Sven Goran Eriksson’s Leicester City.  
   
As a man I know recently suggested -- the bright thing in the sky in LA is the sun. In Leicester, it’s probably a street light.

Enjoy your time in the sun Robbie, you deserve it.

The World Awaits
Some weeks ago Brian O’Driscoll promised a New York audience that there would be no arrogance when Team Ireland takes to the Rugby World Cup stage in New Zealand next month.

There will also be no sentiment.

Irish sides have made many World Cup mistakes in the past, but none more so than four years ago when they went to France even tipping themselves to lift the Ellis-Webb trophy.

It was a silly boast by a team and a management that should have known better, and it was one that was brutally exposed by the Argentineans who sent them home from Paris before the postcards and before the real business end of the tournament.

This time around, Dricco is in the last chance saloon as far as the World Cup is concerned, and so are many of his teammates. Hence no arrogance.

As the French pace so cruelly exposed at the Aviva last Saturday, the Irish Golden Generation who flopped in 2007 can no longer take on the best in the world from an even start.

Instead, they will need a little bit of cuteness, a lot of heart and something a little unusual if they are going to make a real difference in New Zealand next month.

That’s why Declan Kidney’s squad announcement on Monday was so refreshing.
The easiest thing in the world for the Cork coach to do would have been to go with the tried and the trusted in so many key positions with his 30 man squad for action next month.

He could have stuck with Tomas O’Leary as one of three scrum-halves despite another howler against the French just last Saturday.

He could have stayed loyal to his own Munster roots and taken Marcus Horan, John Hayes and Mick O’Driscoll on Tuesday’s flight via London.

He could have decided that Luke Fitzgerald and Shane Jennings were worth a World Cup go based on the excellence of their performances as Leinster won the Heineken Cup last season.

Kidney, as you will read elsewhere on these pages, did none of the above.  Instead, a very young Munster scrum-half and a very old Leicester Tigers full-back will be on the plane to New Zealand.

Conor Murray and Geordan Murphy got their chance because Declan Kidney is a realist and not one for sentiment.

Like Brian O’Driscoll said in New York this summer, the Irish coach and his team are going to live only in the present when they land in Christchurch sometime on Thursday.

That realism, more than anything else, offers us real hope going into this World Cup.

Results so far this season haven’t been good but, like Dricco said on Saturday, the World Cup has yet to start.

If the performances are as honest in the tournament as the Declan Kidney squad selection, then Ireland will do okay over the next six weeks.

Not that a win against England in the final warm-up game on Saturday wouldn’t be welcome!

HEROES OF THE WEEK
Tipperary are through to an All-Ireland final and they really should be feted in every corner of the land. No, not the hurlers who meet Kilkenny in a couple of weeks, but their minor footballers. On Sunday they added the Roscommon scalp in the semifinal at Croke Park to a list of conquests that already includes Meath, Cork and Kerry this season. They now meet Dublin or Galway in the September decider, but no matter what happens in that game, David Power’s team have done their hurling mad county proud on the football field.

IDIOTS OF THE WEEK
More than one commentator has tried to claim that Robbie Keane was making a veiled threat to Thierry Henry when he mentioned his “friends” on the New York Red Bulls in his introductory press conference as an LA Galaxy player. So let’s put the record straight. One of Robbie’s closest friends in football is his former Wolves team-mate Carl Robinson who plays for the Red Bulls. That’s who he was referring to in his press conference last Friday. Not that Robbie will object to putting one over Thierry Henry when they meet in New York this Sunday.

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