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Dion Fanning: Roy Keane is football's answer to Groundskeeper Willie

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Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane during the squad training session in Malahide this morning.

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane during the squad training session in Malahide this morning.

SPORTSFILE

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane at the squad training this morning.

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane at the squad training this morning.

SPORTSFILE

13 November 2014; Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane, right, and goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh arrive for squad training ahead of their UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifer Group D game against Scotland on Friday. Republic of Ireland Squad Training, Gannon Park, Malahide, Co. Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

13 November 2014; Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane, right, and goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh arrive for squad training ahead of their UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifer Group D game against Scotland on Friday. Republic of Ireland Squad Training, Gannon Park, Malahide, Co. Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

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Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane during the squad training session in Malahide this morning.

The words "nothing to see here" rarely accompany Roy Keane, no matter how appropriate they may be.

Keane is a private man who craves a quiet life but he is paradoxically drawn towards drama, even if, in the incident at the team hotel on Wednesday night, drama may well have been drawn towards him.

The Irish football community has been a social medium skilled at spreading information of varying degrees of reliability long before these things moved to the web. In fact, the financial problems in the Irish game could probably have been solved if these talents had been monetised and taken online at some point.

On Wednesday night, it combined expertly with the more conventional forms of social media to create a lurid tale that had a few speculating that Keane's position within the Irish set-up could be under threat, something which was never a consideration.

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Roy Keane on Republic of Ireland  debut against Chile at Lansdowne Road, in 1991

Roy Keane on Republic of Ireland debut against Chile at Lansdowne Road, in 1991

28 April 1993; Roy Keane, Republic of Ireland in action against John Jensen, Denmark, World Cup Qualifier, Republic of Ireland v Denmark, Soccer, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit; David Maher/SPORTSFILE

28 April 1993; Roy Keane, Republic of Ireland in action against John Jensen, Denmark, World Cup Qualifier, Republic of Ireland v Denmark, Soccer, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit; David Maher/SPORTSFILE

28 June 1994; From left Denis Irwin, Roy Keane, Ray Houghton and John Sheridan pictured during the World Cup USA. Picture credit; David Maher/SPORTSFILE

28 June 1994; From left Denis Irwin, Roy Keane, Ray Houghton and John Sheridan pictured during the World Cup USA. Picture credit; David Maher/SPORTSFILE

28 June 1994; Roy Keane and Phil Babb, Republic of Ireland, Look over the Celtic view newspaper. Soccer. Picture credit; David Maher/SPORTSFILE

28 June 1994; Roy Keane and Phil Babb, Republic of Ireland, Look over the Celtic view newspaper. Soccer. Picture credit; David Maher/SPORTSFILE

6 September 1995; Republic of Ireland's Roy Keane in action during the match. Austria v Republic of Ireland, European Championship Qualifier, Ernst Happel Stadium, Vienna, Austria. Soccer. Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSFILE

6 September 1995; Republic of Ireland's Roy Keane in action during the match. Austria v Republic of Ireland, European Championship Qualifier, Ernst Happel Stadium, Vienna, Austria. Soccer. Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSFILE

9 November 1996;  Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy tackles Roy Keane during a squad training session at Lansdowne Road.  Soccer. Picture credit; Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

9 November 1996; Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy tackles Roy Keane during a squad training session at Lansdowne Road. Soccer. Picture credit; Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

20 August 1997; Roy Keane, Republic of Ireland, in action against Lithuania. Republic of Ireland v Lithuania, World Cup qualifier, Group X, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit; Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

20 August 1997; Roy Keane, Republic of Ireland, in action against Lithuania. Republic of Ireland v Lithuania, World Cup qualifier, Group X, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit; Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

18 November 1998. Irish captain Roy Keane leaves the pitch with Charlie O'Leary, equipment officer after the game. European Championship Qualifier, Yugoslavia v Rep of Ireland, Red Star Stadium, Belgrade. Picture Credit: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE.

18 November 1998. Irish captain Roy Keane leaves the pitch with Charlie O'Leary, equipment officer after the game. European Championship Qualifier, Yugoslavia v Rep of Ireland, Red Star Stadium, Belgrade. Picture Credit: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE.

17 November 1999. Republic of Ireland's Roy Keane argues with referee G.Veisseire,  Turkey v Ireland, European Championship soccer, Qualifier Play-off, second leg,  Ataturk Stadium, Bursa, Turkey. Picture credit; David Maher/SPORTSFILE

17 November 1999. Republic of Ireland's Roy Keane argues with referee G.Veisseire, Turkey v Ireland, European Championship soccer, Qualifier Play-off, second leg, Ataturk Stadium, Bursa, Turkey. Picture credit; David Maher/SPORTSFILE

11 October 2000; Ireland's Roy Keane in action against Estonia's Erko Saviauk. Ireland v Estonia, World Cup Qualifier, Lansdowne Rd, Dublin. Soccer. Picture credit; Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

11 October 2000; Ireland's Roy Keane in action against Estonia's Erko Saviauk. Ireland v Estonia, World Cup Qualifier, Lansdowne Rd, Dublin. Soccer. Picture credit; Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

8 November 2001; Roy Keane, under the watchful eye of manager Mick McCarthy, at the Republic of Ireland squad training session, ahead of the World Cup Play-off with Iran.  John Hyland Park, Baldonnell, Co. Dublin. Soccer. Picture credit; Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE *EDI*

8 November 2001; Roy Keane, under the watchful eye of manager Mick McCarthy, at the Republic of Ireland squad training session, ahead of the World Cup Play-off with Iran. John Hyland Park, Baldonnell, Co. Dublin. Soccer. Picture credit; Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE *EDI*

24 May 2002; The former Republic of Ireland captain Roy Keane departs Saipan International Airport. Soccer. Cup2002. Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSILE *EDI*

24 May 2002; The former Republic of Ireland captain Roy Keane departs Saipan International Airport. Soccer. Cup2002. Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSILE *EDI*

13 October 2004; Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr shakes hand with Roy Keane at the end of the game. FIFA 2006 World Cup Qualifier, Republic of Ireland v Faroe Islands, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSFILE

13 October 2004; Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr shakes hand with Roy Keane at the end of the game. FIFA 2006 World Cup Qualifier, Republic of Ireland v Faroe Islands, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSFILE

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7 September 2005; Roy Keane, Republic of Ireland, remonstrates with referee Herbert Fandel. FIFA 2006 World Cup Qualifier, Group 4, Republic of Ireland v France, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSFILE

7 September 2005; Roy Keane, Republic of Ireland, remonstrates with referee Herbert Fandel. FIFA 2006 World Cup Qualifier, Group 4, Republic of Ireland v France, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

7 September 2005; Roy Keane, 6, Republic of Ireland, is shown a yellow card by referee Herbert Fandel. FIFA 2006 World Cup Qualifier, Group 4, Republic of Ireland v France, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit; Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE

7 September 2005; Roy Keane, 6, Republic of Ireland, is shown a yellow card by referee Herbert Fandel. FIFA 2006 World Cup Qualifier, Group 4, Republic of Ireland v France, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit; Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

19 November 2013; Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane during the pre-match warm up. Friendly International, Poland v Republic of Ireland, Municipal Stadium, Poznan, Poland. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

19 November 2013; Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane during the pre-match warm up. Friendly International, Poland v Republic of Ireland, Municipal Stadium, Poznan, Poland. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

15 November 2013; Republic of Ireland  manager Martin O'Neill and assistant manager  Roy Keane. Three International Friendly, Republic of Ireland v Latvia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

15 November 2013; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and assistant manager Roy Keane. Three International Friendly, Republic of Ireland v Latvia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

11 November 2014; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill with assistant manager Roy Keane, during squad training ahead of their UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifer, Group D, match against Scotland on Friday. Republic of Ireland Squad Training, Gannon Park, Malahide, Co. Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

11 November 2014; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill with assistant manager Roy Keane, during squad training ahead of their UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifer, Group D, match against Scotland on Friday. Republic of Ireland Squad Training, Gannon Park, Malahide, Co. Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

22 October 2014; Pictured is legendary former professional football player and current Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane who marked the launch of his new book 'The Second Half' at an exclusive Eason event in the RDS. Joined on stage with co-author of the book, Roddy Doyle, Keane treated fans to some great insights into his life and achievements. Keanes book, The Second Half, is currently on sale in Eason stores nationwide and online at www.easons.com. RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

22 October 2014; Pictured is legendary former professional football player and current Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane who marked the launch of his new book 'The Second Half' at an exclusive Eason event in the RDS. Joined on stage with co-author of the book, Roddy Doyle, Keane treated fans to some great insights into his life and achievements. Keanes book, The Second Half, is currently on sale in Eason stores nationwide and online at www.easons.com. RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

14 October 2014; Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane, left, and Marc Wilson arrive at the stadium ahead of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifer, Group D, Germany v Republic of Ireland, Veltins Stadium, Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

14 October 2014; Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane, left, and Marc Wilson arrive at the stadium ahead of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifer, Group D, Germany v Republic of Ireland, Veltins Stadium, Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

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Roy Keane on Republic of Ireland debut against Chile at Lansdowne Road, in 1991

But comment was endless once it became clear that there had been an 'incident' in Portmarnock and Keane and his autobiography were involved.

There was a certain irony that a book which expertly avoided causing Keane any problems with his employers was at the centre of this story even if the events as described by a number of sources are far more mundane than most of the rumours.

There will be two sides to this encounter but it doesn't appear to be in doubt that a copy of Keane's book was a cause of friction, a copy which may or may not have been signed by the author.

So continues Keane's troubled relationship with his own autobiographies.  The passage concerning his tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland in his first book resulted in a £150,000 fine. His most recent memoir has perpetuated the image, fairly or unfairly, of Keane as a sort of coin-operated headline generator.

Play a word association game and thrown anything at him - Paul Scholes, Jose Mourinho, the Ryder Cup, Gone Girl -  and Keane will respond like football's answer to Groundskeeper Willie. Whenever he is given more time, Keane is more considered but as he has said himself, the headlines will always include the words 'blast' or 'slam'. In the past 24 hours, they have inaccurately expanded to include others like 'fight' and 'bust-up'.

With the book's publicity drive now at an end, Keane would have anticipated a quieter life.

The build-up to the game in Glasgow has been dominated by the endless and endlessly tiresome debate surrounding the reception Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy can expect at Celtic Park. With that going on, it looked as if Keane could get through the week doing the job he was brought in to do but things are never that simple where he is concerned.

Martin O'Neill's statement on Thursday offered full backing for his assistant and he will be bemused but no longer surprised that Keane is once again the story.

On his first day in the job, O'Neill said he understood exactly what Keane did to the news cycle in Ireland but since then, Ireland's manager may have been startled by the endless fascination the country has for his assistant.

There is a curiosity in England but it is not the same obsessive relationship. At Aston Villa they turn down all requests for interviews with Keane by asking rhetorically if the journalist had ever looked to talk Ian Culverhouse, Keane's predecessor as assistant to Paul Lambert.

It is a policy that has ensured relative calm at club level but Aston Villa is not Ireland.

The country has a mixed-up relationship with Keane, centring on Saipan but showing little inclination twelve years on of settling into a comfortable middle age. In the absence of any recent achievement on Keane's part, it is a fascination driven entirely by his personality or at least the public understanding of it.

Having issued two statements in less than twelve hours, the FAI will believe they can move on. This story may disappear as quickly as it arrived but as far as Ireland and Roy Keane are concerned, there will always be something to see here.

Online Editors