Saturday 21 September 2019

'What was Roy Keane's role in the Ireland set-up?' - Matt Doherty's answer leaves more questions than answers

Keane: Assistant role. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Keane: Assistant role. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Matt Doherty struggled to find the words to articulate what Roy Keane's role was in the Republic of Ireland set-up, in a revealing interview with RTÉ 2fm's Game On.

Wolves defender Doherty struggled to force his way into the plans of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill in the last 18 months, despite his emergence as a star turn in the Premier League league season.

Now Doherty has lifted the lid on his experience working alongside assistant manager Keane, as he initially fell silent when asked by presenter Hugh Cahill to describe what contribution O'Neill's high profile side-kick made to the squad.

"Ermmm.....I guess he was Martin's assistant," said a clearly flummoxed Doherty. "I guess he must gave fed ideas off him on whatever he was thinking.

"It wasn't necessarily a case where he (Keane_ has taken the session and was doing shape (work). It wasn't a case of that at all. I guess he was just a back-up to Martin.

"I wouldn't say he was much of a hands-on on the training pitch. Maybe if he was manager, he might have a bit more responsibility, or feel like he had more responsibility.

"When players go into management, they might think they will bring their ideas forward, but when they get into it, it's difficult to do that."

Doherty went on to describe O'Neill's pre-match preparation as 'bizarre', in comments that back up the theory that there was a lack of organisation in the Ireland set-up.

"Compared to the set-up I have at Wolves, you could class it as old-school," he continued. "When you were away with Ireland, you didn't really have that much coaching. It was more of five-a-side, or 11-a-side game, and that would be it.

"You can't have that, especially at international football, people not really sure on what their role is the next day.

"The day before a game you would do a few set-pieces here and there and then go into the game. You are kind of thinking to yourself, 'what shape are we going to play?'

"You'd have a few players thinking 'we'll play this shape', or someone else thinking something else. You can't have that, especially at international football, people not really sure on what their role is the next day.

"It is bizarre, but like I said, it didn't happen all the time. There were odd occasions when it did happen."

Doherty also expressed some sympathy for O'Neill, as he reflected on some of the good times the departed manager had broughr to the national team.

"He has brought great nights to Irish football," he added. "He's brought moments where I have been watching at home, not in the squad, as a fan also. Some of the times he has made the hairs on the back of the neck stand up. So he deserves credit as well.

"We know it is a results business, and also performance business. You have to perform well to get the results. They haven't been coming, so when people lose their jobs in this day and age, you are never really too surprised.

"In the stadium when you're playing, you feel the negative vibe going around for not playing the ball forward, or for not pressing.

"As players you want to be able to go out there and perform for your country and give people good things to write about. Nobody likes to be talked about badly. It has been a tough year. The performances haven't been good at all, not even when I was involved. It's come back to bite him in the end."

Online Editors

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