Mahin: Wait to see my Irish jig

IPSWICH loan star Alan Mahon is enjoying his football so much that he plans to revive his favourite goal celebration.If the Dubliner finds the net against Stoke at Portman Road tomorrow (kick-off 5.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH loan star Alan Mahon is enjoying his football so much that he plans to revive his favourite goal celebration.

If the Dubliner finds the net against Stoke at Portman Road tomorrow (kick-off 5.35pm) expect him to launch into an Irish jig.

He laughed: "I used to do it at Tranmere and Blackburn and it caught on with some of the lads. Even Marcus Bent copied it. It's based on the way my dad dances at weddings.

"But he said people back in Dublin were starting to take the mickey, so I dropped it. Now I'm thinking of bringing it back again."

Mahon, 25, admitted he was caught on the hop when he broke his Town duck to earn all three points at Bradford last week.

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He said: "I didn't really know what to do when I scored, so it wasn't anything special. I hadn't scored for a while and it's not something you do in the reserves."

If Mahon scores Ipswich's first goal tomorrow it will be the 100th of manager Joe Royle's reign.

The Irishman added: "I think goals should be celebrated. Some people might think we are being idiots, but it's just a group of lads getting on well together and having a laugh.

"It doesn't mean that we don't take games seriously. If anything, it shows we have a good team spirit and all successful teams have that."

Mahon is not the least bit surprised by Ipswich's revival, which has seen them win six of their last seven league games.

He said: "When I came here they had played five games and won none of them, but I looked at the squad, saw so many good players in there and knew the only way was up.

"I'm really loving my football all over again. Playing in the reserves at Blackburn was making me stale and I was in danger of being forgotten.

"The way I see it, the loan is good for everybody. It's a two-way thing - I'm helping Ipswich and they are helping me."

Meanwhile, Royle is not expecting tomorrow's game to throw up a repeat of the goal blitz that buried Burnley in midweek.

He said: "Winning 6-1 was great, but I will be happy if we can beat Stoke 1-0. That will do for me.

"Any side managed by Tony Pulis is always well organised and never easy to play against. Stoke are a very resolute outfit."

Royle and Pulis, who were appointed within a few days of each other almost 12 months ago, have formed a special affinity.

"It goes back to the Second Division play-off final at Wembley in 1999, when he was manager of Gillingham and I was with Manchester City," Royle recalled.

"The way Tony handled the situation with such dignity really impressed me. With his team 2-0 up and only four minutes left it couldn't have been easy for him when we turned the game on its head.

"I like to think I would have reacted in exactly the same way, but to be honest I can't guarantee I would have done.

"That game, and last season's ten-man comeback when we were 2-0 down but managed to beat Sheffield United 3-2, will live with me forever."

Royle is confident of being able to field an unchanged side for the fourth successive game.

Georges Santos (groin) is expected to be fit, while doubts over skipper Jim Magilton (calf) and Jermaine Wright (groin) are receding.

Stoke, who have lost their last five away games, welcome back on-loan Wolves midfielder Keith Andrews after he served a one-game ban.

But Marcus Hall and John Eustace are still suspended, while fitness doubts over Wayne Thomas (ankle) and Clive Clarke (groin) remain.

THE SQUADS

Ipswich: Davis, Wilnis, Naylor, Santos, Richards, Wright, Bart-Williams, Magilton, Mahon, Counago, Kuqi, Nash, Westlake, Armstrong, Bowditch, Mitchell, Price.

Stoke: De Goey, Halls, Hill, Thomas, Williams, Henry, Russell, Andrews, Neal, Commons, Clarke, Asaba, Noel-Williams, Owen, Akinbiyi, Greenacre, Wilkinson, Cutler.

Referee: Paul Armstrong (Berkshire).

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