Off the Ball

Monday 28 July 2014

Who knows what 2002 would have brought if we had Keane?

Colm Parkinson

Published 11/06/2014|02:30

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Former Republic of Ireland captain Roy Keane chats to manager Mick McCarthy during squad training for the 2002 World Cup
Former Republic of Ireland captain Roy Keane chats to manager Mick McCarthy during squad training for the 2002 World Cup

WE couldn't possibly do a World Cup memories page without mentioning the war.

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There's no doubt Roy Keane leaving the World Cup in May 2002 was the most controversial incident ever to happen in Irish sport.

The debate on where to lay the blame divided the nation. Families were split, friends fell out and Tommy Gorman told the nation kids were depressed.

I was firmly in the Roy Keane camp and probably didn't forgive Mick McCarthy until he and Keane made up when Roy managed Sunderland.

The most frustrating part of the whole episode, though, is what might have been if Keane had stayed.

Ireland had an incredibly underrated team at that World Cup in South Korea. We qualified ahead of a very talented Holland team and Duff and Robbie Keane were at the peak of their powers.

However, the driving force behind qualification was Roy, who was, in my opinion, the best midfielder in the world at the time.

Could we have beaten Spain, South Korea and a relatively poor German team to reach the final with Roy on board? Probably not, but sadly we'll never know.

 

* Text Gate ... Last week I incorrectly said the Limerick county chairman showed Shane Dowling an abusive text, when, in fact, it was his club chairman. Apologies if it caused offence.

CP

Irish Independent

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