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Irish captain Robbie Keane holds up a shirt in tribute to James Nolan in California on Saturday. Photo by: Getty Images

Sports Digest: Irish mourn loss of fan in Poland, James "Jam" Nolan

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Irish captain Robbie Keane holds up a shirt in tribute to James Nolan in California on Saturday. Photo by: Getty Images

IRELAND goalkeeper Shay Given paid his respects at the funeral of Irish fan James Nolan on Monday, 24 hours after captain Robbie Keane made a special tribute of his own in the U.S.

Given and Keane’s wife Claudine accompanied FAI chief executive John Delaney to the Wicklow funeral of the 21-year-old who tragically died in Poland during the European Championships.

Given spent time with Nolan’s family after the service in Blessington which was also attended by representatives of Irish President Michael D. Higgins and Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny.

“The Irish football family was shocked by James’s death and we wanted to pay our respects at his funeral,” said Delaney.

Captain Keane paid tribute in his own way to Nolan on Saturday night when he scored for the Los Angeles Galaxy in their 3-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on his return to club action after the Euros.

Immediately after scoring, Keane ran to the Galaxy bench and picked up a shirt which read “RIP James Nolan” on the back.

Keane told the Washington Post, “It was a young Irish fan who went to Poland, 21 years of age, and unfortunately drowned.

“Obviously, the whole country was sad and I called his father today to send my condolences and to say that my thoughts were with him and the family.

“It was just a gesture because the Irish people are very close and they stick with each other through good times and bad times. He was a big, big soccer fan and it was a shame, so it was just a show of respect really.”

Luring McCourt

BLACKPOOL boss Ian Holloway wants to lure Irish winger Paddy McCourt from Celtic with the offer of regular first team football.

McCourt was the subject of a failed bid from Holloway last season, and the Championship side is believed to be keen on the Derry born player again.

Celtic’s Kenyan international Victor Wanyama could also be on the way out of Parkhead after revealed he could quit the club for the English Premier League this summer.

Chelsea, Liverpool, Newcastle and Swansea have all been linked with the 21-year-old.

Wanyama said, “I think the Premiership is the dream of so many players, so I’d be happy to play there. There are a lot of good clubs in England.

“It will be difficult to leave Celtic because I have just had a good season here and we are now playing in the Champions League.

“Celtic are one of the biggest teams. I’ve been happy here, and the fans have been brilliant to me. But it would not be a terrible thing for me if the club agree to let me go, and they were to get a good offer. They are the ones who decide.

“I’m proud I’m the first Kenyan to play in the U.K., and I’d be very happy to be the first Kenyan to play in the Premier League.”

Swansea City’s Stephen Dobbie, a former Rangers player, could return to Glasgow if Celtic boss Neil Lennon follows up his initial interest in the 29-year-old.

Airtricity Results

ST. Patrick’s Athletic maintained the pressure on Airtricity League leaders Sligo when Christy Fagan scored a late winner in the 2-1 victory over his former club Bohs on Friday night.

Shamrock Rovers left it late to beat Shelbourne 3-2 in the Dublin derby while Drogheda hammered Bray 3-1.

Cork came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with visitors Derry City while UCD drew 1-1 with Dundalk. 
Shamrock Rovers will play FK Ekranas Panevezys from Lithuania in the Champions League second qualifying round next month.

St. Patrick’s Athletic and Bohemians will meet Icelandic sides IBV Thor Akureyri  respectively in the first round of the Europa League.

Soccer Shorts

FORMER Northern Ireland captain Alan McDonald has died at the age of 48 after a heart attack while playing golf last Saturday . . .

LEAGUE leaders Sligo Rovers have signed Mayo born midfielder Ryan Connolly from Derby County.

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