As Keane and McCarthy turned their backs on each other, the reaction at home was one of shock and deep division between those who believed in Roy and those who felt the manager was right. In the second of a two-part special, the Indo Daily looks back on the aftermath of that week in Saipan.
“Stick your World Cup up your arse,” was, according to Kitman John Fallon, the last thing Roy Keane said before he walked out on Ireland’s World Cup.
is row with manager Mick McCarthy - arguably the greatest spat in Irish sporting history - threatened to derail Ireland’s tournament, and generated utter disbelief back home with “Keane sent home” dominating the front pages.
Such headlines may suggest an image of a rogue schoolboy being put in his place, but that is not how this story goes. There was no black-and-white good guy and bad guy here and Irish society was deeply divided over who was in the right.
Keane was Ireland’s talent of a generation and a serial winner at Manchester United, but a shambolic week in the pacific island Saipan sent him over the edge. The team kit arrived late, the training pitch had never been watered and was like “training on a car park,” and there was obvious tension between the perfectionist Corkman and the team management.
What followed was a media circus that followed the Irish team’s every move as they flew to Japan, and intense behind-the-scenes negotiations to try and pry Keane back into the squad.
In a special two-part podcast for The Indo Daily, Shadows of Saipan, those who were in the room recall what really happened between Keane and McCarthy.
We also hear from players Kevin Kilbane and Matt Holland on how Ireland managed to get their act together in time for the World Cup, and from Vincent Hogan on the exhausting effect the vain attempt to bring Keane back had on the players, particularly on Niall Quinn.
And after 20 years, we look back on what ‘Saipan’ really means to Irish football - everything from memories of shouting matches to the incident’s everlasting effect on the running of the FAI, and the shadow the “tragedy” has cast over the careers of McCarthy and Keane ever since.