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Irish No 2 feels lucky to be back in fold

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Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

SCOUTING missions to outposts of England's second tier such as Brighton and Bournemouth is the weekly grind for the Ireland management team these days.

While, this week, Roy Keane will be have the football equivalent of fine champagne as he attends tonight's Champions League semi-final in Munich on pundit duty, last week it was more like a dose of flat beer, watching Brighton v Yeovil and Bournemouth v Nottingham Forest on Saturday, and, while Keane does yearn to get a manager's job of his own in the future, for now he's content with his role as Martin O'Neill's sidekick.

"It's busy," Keane said. "I was up in the stand thinking that I'd love to have a team. Then I speak to Martin about the game and I am just delighted to be back working with him again.

"There was frustration in not being involved (as manager), but I feel lucky to be back involved and, ultimately, we are here to get the team to try and qualify.

"You have to be careful what you wish for and I am grateful for the opportunity I have at the moment, but you can't look too far down the road. I never thought I'd get into management, I didn't think I would do TV, so I am not thinking too far ahead. I am just focusing on helping Ireland qualify.

LUCKY

"I feel very lucky to be working with Martin ... and the players, I feel lucky to be back involved in the Irish set-up.

"It's a tough draw in the qualifiers, but we have a few games coming up at the end of May and early June, a chance to work with the players more and learn more about them," said Keane, adding that he is still in the "getting to know you" phase with the Irish squad.

"You would hope that you have respect of the players, but you have to earn that as well with some of the players that you haven't come across before. It doesn't just happen," said Keane.

"It does help that, if you have played at a decent level, and you are demonstrating something on the training pitch that they listen. It does help when you have a conversation; players always enjoy when someone takes an interest in them, and Martin and myself have certainly covered the miles."


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