Cross Keys' newest fan Niall Quinn offers words of wisdom

Campaign Series: GWENT GOONER: Greg Woods got advice from ex-Arsenal striker Niall Quinn GWENT GOONER: Greg Woods got advice from ex-Arsenal striker Niall Quinn

CROSS Keys have been given advice on how to bounce back from their heavy defeat to Leinster A for the return fixture this Saturday by their latest fan – Arsenal football legend Niall Quinn.

Keys were making their way back home on the weekend after losing 31-0 at Donnybrook in the British and Irish Cup when they befriended the former Republic of Ireland and Manchester City striker at Dublin Airport.

They watched Leinster’s first XV slaughter Northampton 40-7 in the Heineken Cup away at Franklin’s Gardens with Quinn who also shared the return flight to the UK with the side as he made his way to fulfil his commitments as a Sky Sports pundit.

“At least we had a good trip home,” Keys head coach Greg Woods said. “Niall asked the boys how they got on and they told him we’d been smashed against Leinster A.

“He asked, ‘What does your manager say?’ One of the boys, it was Vinny (prop Anthony Lott) I think, told him that I am an Arsenal fan.”

The former Sunderland player and manager then approached Woods, advised him to keep his men off the Guinness and to get mad and as well as even on Saturday against his countrymen when they entertain the full-time professionals of Leinster A at Pandy Park.

“He came up to me, shook my hand and told me it was best for the team to ‘stay in and hurt’ on the weekend,” he said. “I think he’s our newest fan.”

On a more serious note, Woods said of their defeat which saw Leinster A go five points clear of their group from Keys after their bonus point win: “It was a tough weekend and they are a powerful, strong side – it was probably also our worst performance for about five or six years.

“I spoke to their fitness coach and he said they were playing all their boys who hadn’t made the squad that went to Northampton. We felt much better when we saw what they did to the Saints when we were watching the game at the airport.”

Woods added: “Our big players didn’t perform, we missed tackles and I thought we were a bit overawed.

“They should have scored more points to be honest but I thought (flanker) Scott Matthews, (hooker) Gerwyn Price and (centre) James Cordy-Redden all put in a good effort.”

Keys are still very much in the British and Irish Cup and could still qualify, realistically though as one of the best runners-up rather than group winners.

They did pick up two worrying bumps in the Irish Republic to both their scrum-halves, Ryan James with a potential long-term chest injury but Rhys Dyer’s knock is not expected to be as bad after he hurt his knee.

And their promising Wales Under-18s outside half Angus O’Brien will be out for up to two months after he broke his leg in the 38-10 victory at Cardiff at the end of last month.

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