When John Delaney and Martin O’Neill decided Roy Keane was the right man to assist Ireland through their latest qualifying campaign, you couldn’t help but wonder what was going through their head. In such a tight group, Ireland cannot afford too many mishaps, they cannot afford to let their focus be on anything other than the next game. Yet, with Roy Keane, and John Delaney and the FAI know this better than anyone, controversy is never too far away.

Since taking over, Roy has been involved in talks to take over as manager at Celtic, a launch of his new book which attracted plenty of attention and controversy and now he has been involved in an alleged bust-up with a fan outside the team hotel. All three incidents have come on the eve of an Ireland game and one question that many would love to know the answer to is; how would Roy Keane, the player, feel if his assistant manager was publicly involved in such incidents?

Seen as the ultimate professional who would not stand for any nonsense, it’s hard to imagine that the man who walked out of the Ireland team before the 2002 World Cup, due to the lack of professionalism, is the same man who is happy to spend a week advertising his new book before his side take on the World Champions and get involved in this latest incident with a fan two days before Ireland take on Scotland in a crucial qualifier. Quite simply, Roy has not lived up to the extremely high professional standards that he would’ve expected if he was one of the 23 Ireland players in that squad.

Of course it is important to recognise the fact that the full details of the incident are not yet known and that Keane retains the backing of both Martin O’Neill and the FAI but you can’t help but get that familiar sense of deja vu with Keane. It doesn’t just go back to the beginning of his coaching career either, Roy was has a track record of heated exchanges with team mates and opposition players throughout his playing career. In his latest autobiography he even goes into detail about a fist fight he had with then Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel in a team hotel in 1998, which left the Danish goalie with a black eye.

This kind of incident isn’t a one-off and the unfortunate thing is, it can only serve to negatively impact on the Ireland side going into the game in Glasgow on Friday evening. For all his talent and all he has to offer, Martin O’Neill must be thinking, is it really worth it? Is he worth all the inevitable controversy that he brings with him? The obvious answer would seem no, after all he is just the assistant manager, but as long as he has O’Neill’s backing and as long as the team continues to get the desired results, Roy Keane and the baggage he brings are sure to remain.

Eugene Tinnelly

Eugene Tinnelly

Sports Correspondent at The Scoop
Our sporting guru, keeping you up-dated on the latest sporting action around Queen's University and beyond!
Eugene Tinnelly