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Anorak | There Could Be Trouble Ahead

There Could Be Trouble Ahead

by | 22nd, July 2002

‘YOU could say that hundreds of thousands of disgusted Irishmen voted with their feet and stayed away from Roy Keane’s first football match on Irish soil since his dramatic early exit from the World Cup.

Roy Keane plays keep-ball

On the other hand, tickets sold out in two hours, and 11,000 lucky ones filled Tolka Park to watch Keano lead Manchester United out against Shelbourne.

Roy had a bodyguard whose weight in pounds was probably equivalent to the United skipper’s monthly salary, but his services weren’t required.

Nor was the local police’s ‘Operation Fortress Tolka Park’, which involved sealing off all surrounding roads for four hours before the kick-off and putting bouncers in monkey suits on all the entrances.

The papers report that T-shirts were on sale with twin pictures of the Republican martyr Michael Collins and the other rebel, Roy Keane, bearing the legend: ‘Two great Cork leaders shot in the back’. You couldn’t make it up.

The crowd shouted his name, and the League Of Ireland champions were grateful to have him and his side there to bring in the red-shirted United fans and the accompanying cash bonus.

United strolled to a 5-0 victory, although Keane made it a growling, snarling stroll as he bossed the midfield and exhorted his team-mates in time-honoured fashion.

There was good news for United all round. Ruud van Nistelrooy, who looked exhausted by the end of last season, has had a World Cup-less summer in which to recuperate, and helped himself to a hat-trick.

Diego Forlan scored his first for United, after a frustrating first season in which he did everything but score. And Irish defender John O’Shea got a rare start. Even Dwight Yorke appeared, and duly got his name on the score-sheet.

It was a solid United crowd, and a solid United performance. There was nothing there to encourage the Reds’ rivals, and precious little to cheer Mick McCarthy either.

Meanwhile, three books are due to hit the stands – one about the spat, one by Keane, and one by McCarthy. The whole affair will then start again, just in time for the build-up to the Republic’s Euro 2004 qualifying match against Russia.

Those weeks could decide the international future of both men. ‘



Posted: 22nd, July 2002 | In: Back pages Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink