IRISH CUP: Stephen Baxter happy as he gets Alan Keane on board after win

Crusaders Michael Carvill Celebrates his goal against Ards
Crusaders Michael Carvill Celebrates his goal against Ards

Stephen Baxter believes defender Alan Keane will help Crusaders in their quest to win an Irish League and Irish Cup double.

On Saturday, Crusaders knocked Ards out of the Tennent’s Irish Cup, winning 2-0 at Seaview, but perhaps the best news of the day came just before kick-off, when the club announced the signing of Dundalk defender Alan Keane.

Keane came out of retirement last August to help Dundalk take on host of professional talent in the Europa League.

The Galway man now has his sights set on winning the Irish League with Crusaders.

Baxter explained, “Alan Keane played for Sligo Rovers against us in the Setanta Cup a number of years ago, and even though we won that tie, I’ve honestly never seen better.

“He is a top-class defender and a genuine athlete. He has played at a number of clubs and has a host of experience. He is 32-years-old but he is fit as a flea and as strong as a bull.

“He will give us that extra body we need. It was four days of hard work to convince Alan to join us, and I think that will be reflected in my phone bill, but I’m delighted to have him at our club.”

On Saturday, Crusaders beat Ards 2-0 at Seaview thanks to an Emmet Friars own goal and a strike from Michael Carvill.

Left-back Craig McClean had a hand in the opening goal, which arrived in the 20th minute. The full-back sprinted down the left flank before drilling a low cross across goal which was turned into his own net by Ards captain Emmet Friars. Incredibly, it was Friars second own goal against his old club in the space of five days.

Crusaders doubled their lead 10 minutes before the break. Ards defender Johnny Taylor had two opportunities to clear the ball, but he found himself caught in possession, which allowed Michael Carvill to race through on goal. He clipped the ball over the advancing Hogg, for 2-0.

It was a difficult day for Ards, who are facing the prospect of losing their best player Joe McKinney to Ballymena United.

Boss Colin Nixon said, “I can’t confirm or deny anything on Joe McKinney because nothing has been done yet. Ballymena have made advances, but I don’t know whether he will go in January or not.”