Thursday 12 December 2019

Fan who clashed with Keane to ask for apology

Ian Mallon, Tom Brady and Sam Griffin

The man who was involved in a fracas with Roy Keane at the Ireland team hotel is demanding a public apology from the former Manchester United man.

Frank Gillespie, a son-in-law of entertainer Brendan Grace, has met with his solicitors following an alleged incident with the Irish assistant manager.

A source close to Mr Gillespie told the Irish Independent that he will seek an apology from Keane, but will not take the matter further than that.

FAI sources, however, insisted that Keane did nothing wrong.

The Irish Independent has learned that Mr Gillespie is claiming that Keane pushed him, causing him to fall over a table in the reception of the Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links.

The alleged altercation between the pair took place on Wednesday afternoon as Keane had returned to the hotel after training for tonight's crunch match in Scotland.

Roy Keane arrives at training with goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh
Roy Keane arrives at training with goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh
Roy Keane gives the thumbs-up at training

Mr Gillespie, who was an acquaintance of Keane from his playing days, was waiting for him with a copy of Keane's autobiography, 'The Second Half', when he asked the Cork man: "Will you sign this for (my son) Trevor?"

Boston-based Mr Gillespie claims that Keane asked him about a book that the avid football fan wrote in 2004, 'Confessions From The Blackthorn', and asked him who gave him the right to write a book about football.

The conversation grew heated with Gillespie asking Keane who gave him the right to write his book, and it was at this point that the autobiography fell to the ground during the fracas.

The Westmeath man, who previously ran a number of pubs in the US and now works as a real estate agent in Massachusetts, picked up the Keane book and began tearing pages out of it, and it was at that stage he ended up on the floor.

Keane then walked away and gardai were called, although there is now a suggestion that the hotel may also have rung the authorities.

"I did not hit him - I was terrified of him," Mr Gillespie told The Star newspaper.

"He cannot walk up to one of the best Ireland fans in the last 25 years and treat them like that."

Mr Gillespie added that he had spent hours at Beaumont Hospital, and said he has injuries including "a very bruised neck and a bump on my head".

Gardai say they are not carrying out any investigation into the alleged incident at the hotel.

Officers say they have not received any complaint and have no evidence indicating that a serious altercation had taken place.

But if anybody came forward and made allegations, he would be interviewed, one officer said last night.

Gardai said they went to the hotel after receiving a call about an incident there and spoke to a number of people.

Mr Gillespie, who is friends with former Ireland manager Jack Charlton since the team travelled to the US in the 1990s, was taken to Beaumont Hospital.

He was discharged a number of hours later on Wednesday night. The Irish Independent contacted Mr Gillespie's wife Melanie in the US to ascertain the nature of his injuries.

"He lost his phone in the altercation and I have been trying to get in touch with him through his friend, but it has been hard," she said.

Asked if she thought Mr Gillespie might make it to the match in Scotland, she said she hoped not.

"I hope he won't have anything to do with it now," she said.

The incident has shrouded tonight's crunch Group D European Championship qualifiers match with Scotland in controversy.

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill said Keane had his "full support and the full support of the FAI and [chief executive] John Delaney".

O'Neill insisted the team was "fine" and admitted the incident had been a distraction.

However he was adamant the matter had been dealt with and the squad was "ready to go" for tonight's battle in Glasgow.

At a packed press conference at Celtic Park, O'Neill said: "I think we are fine, the players are fine and the man in question is fine too and we are ready to go."

But he did confirm Keane, who attended training, did not speak to the players.

"No. He spoke to me, that's all that's mattered," he said.

Earlier in the day, O'Neill had issued a statement about the incident in which he said Keane had his full backing and that of the FAI.

He stated the FAI had been "fully briefed" and were focused on the game.

Mr Gillespie had returned to Ireland on holiday, and had exchanged online messages earlier this week with legendary Irish defender Paul McGrath signalling his intention to attend the Scotland game.

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