Football | Supple earns Republic of Ireland call

Shane Supple walked away from professional football at the age of 22.

The Irish goalkeeper asked his club Ipswich Town – managed by Roy Keane – to terminate his contract in 2009, and he moved home to Dublin.

Supple played with Home Farm as a youngster, before joining Ipswich at the age of 15. He won an FA Youth Cup with The Tractor Boys, and made his senior debut for the Championship club just three months after turning 18.

It was Joe Royle who handed the Dubliner his debut, and Supple went on to make over 30 first team appearances over the next few years under Royle and then Keane.

However, the young ‘keeper was unhappy with the culture of professional football, and “fell out of love” with the beautiful game. And so, a week after saving a penalty for Ipswich in the League Cup, Supple approached Keane and the club and asked them to release him from his contract, which they did reluctantly.

“There is no one reason why I have made my decision,” he said at the time.

“There are a number of factors, but deep down my heart is not in the game any more. I’m not going to go into work every day trying to convince myself that it is, so it’s the right time for me to walk away.”

Supple returned to Dublin, and was immediately back training with his local GAA team St. Brigid’s. He won a Dublin Senior Championship with the club in 2011, and was part of the panel for Dublin’s All-Ireland glory that same year.

However, the former Ipswich shot stopper failed to usurp Stephen Cluxton’s position between the posts, and eventually took a step back from the inter-county scene.

The Dublin native worked in sports management before setting up 4pitch, which supplies goalkeeping equipment.

Supple then joined Crumlin United – who were short on goalkeeping options – in 2015, winning the FAI Intermediate Cup in the process, while also keeping up his GAA and work commitments. His impressive performances attracted plenty of clubs, and Supple opted to join Bohemians after being convinced by manager Keith Long.

Supple soon became the Dublin club’s number one, and has established himself as one of the finest ‘keepers in the League of Ireland.

Martin O’Neill was at Dalymount Park on Friday, and the Republic of Ireland manager was impressed with Supple’s performance against Dundalk in the SSE Airtricity League.

“I have to say that the other night I thought that young Supple looks imposing as goalkeeper,” O’Neill said.

“He looked half-decent. We’ve got the two keepers at this minute and a couple who are injured.

“So I’ll have a think. But please, don’t get carried away. I might have Buffon ready for it.”

Despite his jesting, O’Neill has now named Supple in the squad for the upcoming friendlies against France and the USA. The 31 year old will provide competition for Colin Doyle and Conor O’Malley for the upcoming friendlies, with Darren Randolph, Rob Elliot, and Keiren Westwood ruled out through injury.

Whether Supple gets any game time remains to be seen, but his inclusion is a remarkable development in a fascinating journey.

Shamrock Rovers star Graham Burke has also been named in the squad, which will be fully revealed on Thursday.

Both players will face each other when Bohs take on Rovers on Friday night, before the Republic of Ireland squad flies to Paris on Saturday.