Waterford’s Noel Hunt is adamant that he – not Robbie Keane – got the goal that earned Ireland a draw against Italy in Bari on Wednesday night.
The Clonea-Power man (pictured), who came on as a second-half sub for his Reading clubmate Kevin Doyle, insists that it was his touch that steered the ball past Gianluigi Buffon in the 87th minute.
The 25-year-old former Johnville and Waterford United striker says he told his captain as much during their celebrations – but the Dubliner, having taken the plaudits of the travelling Irish fans, simply laughed.
Keane indicated afterwards that the goal was his, but Noel told our soccer correspondent Matt Keane yesterday that he would go to UEFA to prove his case.
“There was a knock-on. I got myself in between the defender and the ball and as I slipped I poked it and it went into back of the net. Robbie was coming in from the other side and he kicked into me. I think he was just going for the ball as well.
“It was only my second cap and to score against the world champions, I can never forget that. I am going to look into how it is looked at, what channels you have got to go through, through UEFA and stuff and see what happens because I do firmly believe it was my goal.”
TV replays are inconclusive. Side-on Keane looks like the scorer but the behind-the-goal camera shot suggests Hunt. Either way, the Hunt brothers made history by becoming the first Waterford siblings to play for Ireland in a World Cup qualifier, having previously been on the pitch together in a friendly against Poland.
Manager Giovanni Trapattoni was delighted with their input – even if he’s still crediting his skipper with the equaliser.
“There are certain players who are very enthusiastic,” he smiled. “For example, Stephen [Hunt] for five minutes was wondering ‘where am I?’ after he was hit in the head by the ball.” Indeed, after getting that early bang the winger admitted he didn’t even realise Italy had scored until half-time.
Added Trap: “He and his brother are very similar. They have so much enthusiasm and we needed that mentality against Italy.” And that goal.