Saturday 24 February 2018

Keane's now the Messiah, but soon he'll be the Judas again

Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane at an Ireland squad training session.
Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane at an Ireland squad training session.

There's been more biblical quotes and Jesus comparisons in the national media in the past weeks since the Bible was first produced.

I was listening to Newstalk one morning when the presenter simply said "He Is Among Us" in his introduction to a story.

That story being the return of Roy Keane to Irish international soccer.

He Is Among Us.

Messianic in the extreme.

His colour picture adorning the front page of both the Irish Independent and Irish Times that same morning as the prodigal son, Keane returned, the inside headline in the Indo was worse: "Warrior, patriot and even a joker – it's the Second Coming of Roy Keane".

Indeed Keane himself probably only added to the religious glee of the assembled media when he said he was akin to Mother Teresa.

Sometimes I despair for the profession I find myself in, and last week was one of those times.

Such sycophantic coverage of any story would be (rightfully) ridiculed if it were the product of any English media outlet.

The Sky News coverage of the arrival of the Royal Baby earlier this year springs to mind.

Sycophantic, fawning, or as they might say in Roy Keane parlance, ass-licking.

There's one thing certain, and Keane himself will know this better than anyone else.

Those same drooling journalists will bite him in the bum as soon as it suits them.

Those same drooling journalists were baying for his blood in Saipan in 2002 when he walked out on his Irish team mates.

Just like political careers, all football management careers end in failure, unless you're Alex Ferguson.

Sports journalism, in particular, it seems to me, is a strange game.

Feature writing and analysis is one thing, but reporting on what happens at press conferences is quite another.

The slightest utterance, shrug of the shoulder, or eye movement manifests itself into gigantic headlines for the following morning which resemble little of what transpired.

Mind you, it's not always the journalist's fault. Sports stars and managers are hardly ever the most expressive and deep-thinking set of people.

One example springs to mind, the only time I ever attended a major sporting press conference.

It was at at Anfield Stadium, December, 1995, when the Republic of Ireland lost to Holland in the Euro 96 Championship Final play-off. Jack Charlton's last game in charge, the end of an era. We were beaten off the park.

The press conference afterwards was a very laid-back affair, the managers come in and speak to the assembled press.

After that, the players, if they wish, come into the press room and mingle with the press, chat to them in a blokish sort of way.

I remember one of the Irish team coming in, big star in his day, obviously knackered, gulping water, explaining he'd been run around the pitch because of how quick the Dutch players were, joking that it was as if they were on drugs or something.

Everyone laughed with him.

Headline in a tabloid paper the next day: "XXX in shock Dutch Drugs claim". He had said it, but not in the way intended.

A hard lesson learned. Another day I doubted my profession.

Trust me, the love affair won't last. Now Keane the Jesus, he'll soon be the Judas again.

Keane, the Messiah ? He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy. Maybe not just as naughty now.

Sligo Champion

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