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May 26 - On this day in Saipan 20 years ago: Paul Kimmage meets Roy Keane

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As his captain caused a storm, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson waas celebrating in the Curragh. He is here pictured with jockey Mick Kinnane after sending out Rock of Gibraltar to win the Entenmann's Irish 2000 Guineas. Photo by Sportsfile

As his captain caused a storm, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson waas celebrating in the Curragh. He is here pictured with jockey Mick Kinnane after sending out Rock of Gibraltar to win the Entenmann's Irish 2000 Guineas. Photo by Sportsfile

As his captain caused a storm, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson waas celebrating in the Curragh. He is here pictured with jockey Mick Kinnane after sending out Rock of Gibraltar to win the Entenmann's Irish 2000 Guineas. Photo by Sportsfile

The Sunday Independent skyline advertised the second big Roy Keane sitdown of the week, a chat with Paul Kimmage that had taken place in the same window as the Irish Times discussion that triggered meltdown.

I honestly don’t think they want the same as me” is the headline, an introduction to a piece which centres largely on his relationship with the rest of the group.

The volatile nature of that is highlighted by the fact that Jason McAteer’s diary from Saipan starts with the story of a relaxed breakfast stroll along the beach with Keane at the beginning of the week.

“We didn’t get on first but over the years we have grown to respect each other,” he says.

In Keane’s interview with Kimmage, he declares that McAteer “has a big mouth”.

McAteer’s diary equates the piano room row with “World War Three” and says: “I do not understand why Roy was so angry. There was no justification for the way he reacted tonight.”

The news of the day, however, plants a seed of doubt over whether it’s really game over for Keane’s World Cup. It is suggested that behind the scenes negotiators believed a compromise could be reached if Keane was willing to apologise. However, quotes from the Corkman indicate he has no plans to say sorry. “It is now clear the only formula that Keane will accept is the sacking of Mick McCarthy as Irish manager,” is the paper’s conclusion.

But at the bottom of the piece, a source close to the Keane family is quoted as saying “Roy’s intransigence has evaporated. There’s an open door ready to be pushed but he’s not prepared to do it if it’s thrown back in his face.”

In news comment, Ronan Fanning abandons plans for a General Election column to vent his fury on that week’s Late Late Show. Jack Charlton was a guest and had laid the blame squarely at the door of Keane. “This, I suddenly realised, was the real political story this week” wrote Fanning. “The closing of the ranks of the Irish establishment as it moved to crush the challenge to its authority presented by Roy Keane.”

Opinion polls reflect the confused mood of the nation. 56pc feel McCarthy was right to send Keane home, but 61pc feel Keane’s criticisms were justified. However, 79pc didn’t agree with how he expressed those views. 68pc said Keane should be brought back if apologising.

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ELSEWHERE ON PAGE 1:

It was World Cup only on Page 1 with any other news pushed back to the inside pages. While Bertie Ahern’s name featured in most Saipan reports, it is stated that his main Sunday phonecall will be to PD leader Mary Harney with a view to forming a Government before the week is out.

ELSEWHERE IN SPORT:
Ray Glennon reports on Irish 2,000 Guineas success for the talented Rock of Gibraltar at the Curragh. Co-owner Alex Ferguson is pictured celebrating with jockey Michael Kinane. Naturally enough he was asked for his view on Keane, who would of course later offer his views on Ferguson’s Rock of Gibraltar dalliance.


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