Tuesday 11 December 2018

Mick McCarthy believes Ireland would not have made the knockout stages of the 2002 World Cup with Roy Keane

Newly appointed Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy poses for a portrait in the dressing-room at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Newly appointed Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy poses for a portrait in the dressing-room at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Mick McCarthy claims his Ireland side wouldn't have got out of their World Cup group in 2002 had an irritable Roy Keane remained with the squad.

After McCarthy had sent his captain home following a heated row in Saipan, and Keane refused an olive branch to return, Ireland reached the knockout stages, only losing out on penalties to Spain for a quarter-final place. McCarthy, back in the Ireland job this week for a second stint, has revealed his team performed better in Japan and South Korea without Keane.

Speaking to his arch nemesis Eamon Dunphy in their first-ever face-to-face interview, the 59-year-old insisted his skipper's attitude had darkened since he spearheaded Ireland's qualification.

"Yeah, we might have gone a long way in the World Cup if Roy was in the frame of mind and mood from those qualifiers against Holland and Portugal," outlined McCarthy, who has stepped into the vacancy created by the FAI's sacking of Martin O'Neill and Keane last week.

Holidays "However, there wouldn't have been a chance if he was in the frame of mind and mood he appeared in Saipan. I did think and reflect on that afterwards, still believing we'd have been home after three group games and I'd have gone on my holidays a lot sooner."

McCarthy also revealed he felt compelled to defend himself against the Manchester United machine taking the side of their captain Keane in the fallout from Saipan.

"I phoned up Sir Alex Ferguson because I thought at the time the Manchester United machine, along with other people, moved to try to seriously discredit me for my part in it. They're a big old club to take on. I wanted to maintain my relationship with Alex and he said to me, 'You'd have got to the semi-finals if Roy was there'. We agreed to disagree."

McCarthy also countered the accusation made by Keane during their blazing row that his boss was a 's**t manager'. "Well, I had managed Roy for five years before that," he said. "I f**king spun his plates, saying he could come in the day before the game rather than two like the rest of the players. He could train one day, play and then go home.

"That was because I don't think he particularly liked being in with us.

"Still, after sending him home from Saipan, I invited him back and he refused.

"That was for all the people who paid their money to come to the World Cup and wanted to see Roy in the team." Eamon Dunphy fronts 'Paddy Power's Head2 Head', which sees the first in a five-part series hit Irish screens tonight, free-to-air on eir Sport 1 at 10pm

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