Football: Keane ready to take full control

Iceland 2 Republic of Ireland 4

At a time when the Republic of Ireland captain Andy Townsend has been informed by his manager that it's "the end of an era" for him, how apposite that his natural successor, Roy Keane, should weigh in on Saturday with a performance as influential as any among his 37 appearances for his country.

The Manchester United midfielder, elevated to the role of captain this season by his club following the depature of Eric Cantona, almost single- handedly hauled the Irish back into the World Cup reckoning here just when it looked as if their quest to qualify for their third consecutive finals was doomed.

Slipshod defending either side of half-time found a stunned Irish side suddenly trailing 2-1 when Keane took a hand. In the space of 10 minutes he trebled his goal output for his country, keeping his head while all around others were losing theirs (not always one of his strengths), to put the Irish back in control of their destiny.

Mick McCarthy, Ireland's manager, believes that there is time enough for Keane to take over the captaincy but whether or not he is ready to dispense with the services of the 34-year-old Townsend just yet remains to be seen. It looks, though, as if he will have to loan Keane the armband for the all-important game against Lithuania in Vilnius on Wednesday as Townsend, along with Mark Kennedy and Jeff Kenna, is suspended. Like Iceland's first recorded inhabitants - a group of ascetic Christian Irish monks - the Irish, it seems, have a habit of making life difficult for themselves.

"One or two of the lads know it's the end of an era for them and I've spoken to Andy long and deep about that," said McCarthy. "He's been the centre of some criticism and I would love him to go out with everyone remembering what an absolutely brilliant player he's been for us for 10 years. He's probably suffered by having too many good games."

If Keane's unexpected goal rush was timely, the contribution of Kennedy could not have come a moment too soon. Yet the Liverpool midfielder had been deemed surplus to requirements at the outset, McCarthy opting to award a debut to Kevin Kilbane, of West Bromwich, instead.

By half-time, McCarthy had thought better of it, introducing the young Dubliner, who wasted no time in redressing the error. He made both Keane's goals and set up the fourth, when the home goalkeeper fumbled his cross- shot into the net, before he disappeared again from view, sent off in the 84th minute for a second bookable offence. "He turned the game for us with his ability," conceded McCarthy, even if he did blight his short appearance with "sloppiness and indiscipline."

At 26 Keane seems finally to be curbing his own indiscipline. The Irish could do without any repetition of the last time he wore the armband: it was McCarthy's first match in charge, 18 months ago - and Keane was sent off.

Goals: Connolly (13) 1-0; Gunnarsson (43) 1-1; H Sigurdsson (47) 1-2; Keane (54) 2-2; Keane (64) 2-3; Finnbogason (og 78) 2-4.

ICELAND (4-4-2): Finnbogason (KR Reykjavik); L Sigurdsson (Stoke City), Bergsson (Bolton Wanderers), Sverrisson (Hertha Berlin), Hreidarsson (Crystal Palace); Kristinsson (Lillestrom), Jonsson (Orebro), T Gudjonsson (Genk), Gunnarsson (KR Reykjavik); H Sigurdsson (Stabaek), Danielsson (KR Reykjavik). Substitutes: B Gudjonsson (Newcastle Utd) for Gunnarsson, 63; Gudmundsson (IBV) for Danielsson, 69; Dadason (KR Reykjavik) for H Sigurdsson, 66.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (4-3-3): Given (Newcastle Utd); Kenna (Blackburn Rovers), Cunningham (Wimbledon), Harte (Leeds United), Staunton (Aston Villa); McLoughlin (Portsmouth), Keane (Manchester United), Townsend (Middlesbrough); Kelly (Leeds United), Connolly (Feyenoord), Kilbane (West Bromwich Albion). Substitutes: Kennedy (Liverpool) for Kilbane, h-t; McAteer (Liverpool) for Cunningham, 87.

Referee: A Kulusic (Croatia). Sendings-off: Iceland: L Sigurdsson. Ireland: Kennedy. Bookings: Iceland: Sverrison. Ireland: Townsend, Kenna.

Man of the match: Kennedy. Attendance: 5,000.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform