Saturday 25 May 2019

Ireland's 'dead' granny makes plea to Roy Keane

Roy Keane Photo: Donagh Glavin
Roy Keane Photo: Donagh Glavin
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

ROY KEANE has been urged to call Stephen Ireland back into international football by an unlikely source – one of the grandmothers that the Stoke player said was dead.

Ireland missed an international match in 2007, variously claiming both his maternal and paternal grandmothers had died, and did not return to the fold.

But Keane bumped into his fellow Corkman's relative on a flight to Cork yesterday morning – where she asked the Ireland assistant manager if he would consider recalling her grandson into Martin O'Neill's squad.

By coincidence, Keane will be travelling to watch the 27-year-old play for Stoke against Hull in the Premier League this weekend. The midfielder hasn't represented his country since he left the Irish camp after a Euro 2008 qualifier with Slovakia, claiming that his grandmother had died.

When that story failed to check out, Ireland said it was another grandmother – before he later said there were personal reasons involving his partner.

Remarkably, Grannygate could have another chapter.

"Well, I spoke with the grandmother this morning, she was on the flight coming over – and she asked me would he get back involved," said Keane.

"I couldn't lie to her. I said he'd have a chance if he's playing well. I think Martin had a conversation with him, and all that needs to fall into place.

"We all know how talented Stephen is and Martin will look at that.

"We wouldn't be shutting the door on any player.

"What is important for any player, and Stephen is the same, is it does help to be playing week-in week-out.

"He's obviously had a difficult spell. He's only just got a run of games at Stoke now. So I certainly wouldn't be ruling anyone out."

Ireland initially left the scene when Steve Staunton was manager and refused the opportunity to return under Giovanni Trapattoni.

He has suggested that he would like to work under O'Neill and Keane without definitively stating an intention to end his exile. The midfielder has impressed Stoke boss Mark Hughes this term and is close to agreeing a new extended contract.

Meanwhile, Keane has dismissed the suggestion by former England striker and Talksport radio presenter Stan Collymore that he could link up with O'Neill to take over the vacant posting at their shared former club Nottingham Forest.

Collymore used his show to call on the Forest ownership to break the bank and pay out the FAI. Keane ruled out the idea while also stressing that he doesn't view himself as an assistant manager for the long term. However, he is firmly focused on the Irish talk for the time-being.

“Me and Martin have been in the door two minutes with the senior team and we're enjoying it,” said Keane, who was speaking at the launch of Cork City FC's Patron Scheme in UCC.

“Sometimes with this speculation you'd take it as a compliment. Forest are a top club but my intentions are to continue working with Martin and the senior team and to try and qualify [for the Euros]. I dont tend to get distracted by media stuff. The contract is obviously a couple of years long and I'm delighted to work with Martin, Seamus McDonagh and the other staff. I never said for one minute that I wasn't looking to go and do my own thing [in the future]. But It's dangerous to look too far ahead.”

Keane, who spoke at length in front of an interested audience, also discussed his decision to link up with award winning author Roddy Doyle for his next autobiography.

“He's a good guy for a Chelsea fan,” joked Keane, “He’s clever. I didn’t realise how much I had to say. I think he mentioned that over the course of the few months we need maybe 80 or 90,000 words – I think we got that in the first few hours.

“I had plenty of offers over the last few years but I had no interest, I felt like it had been two minutes since I did my last book. [with Eamon Dunphy]

“But obviously when I did the last book I was 32, it was before I left United, Celtic, Ipswich and Sunderland. But eventually I met Roddy in Dublin a good few months ago to discuss the potential of the book. I enjoyed his company, we had a good chat. There was nothing wrong with the last book but I was still under the FA so your hands are tied a little bit and I suffered the consequences. A big fine and a big ban!”

Irish Independent

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