Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 11 May 2021

13 Irish players who have history with Roy Keane and Martin O'Neill

Keane on Stephen Ireland in 2009: “I would literally sleep outside his house [to convince him to come back].”

Roy Keane has questioned Andy Reid's fitness levels in the past.
Roy Keane has questioned Andy Reid's fitness levels in the past.

Jonathan Walters

Keane and Walters got on well initially at Ipswich, with the Corkman making the player captain of the club. However, they fell out after the striker put in a transfer request amid Premier League clubs’ interest. Speaking at the time, Keane told reporters:

“Jon came to me and said he was aware of interest in him and that he wanted out of Ipswich.

“These were his exact words and you can quote me on that.

“Players get their heads turned and we all live in the real world, well I know I do. Do players get tapped up? Absolutely, 100 per cent.

“Can I prove it? Obviously not, unless I get hold of managers’ and agents’ phone bills.”

Andy Reid

Similar to Walters, Keane initially lavished praise on Reid, who he regularly picked to play on the left wing. At the early stages of Reid’s career at Sunderland, he told reporters:

“Andy Reid has been absolutely brilliant.

“He hadn’t played for eight weeks when I signed him owing to an operation, so that was a risk because we were paying decent money for him. But my gut feeling was he was worth taking a chance on.

“He’s a talented player. But even in the last four weeks, even on the training pitch, he’s been our best player by far.”

“He ups us another level. His fitness is getting better all the time, he’s getting stronger with the games.

“What you find in football through the media and fans is that they focus on what Reidy hasn’t got, but I focus on what he has got and that’s a beautiful left foot.

“He’s not 6ft4 and won’t ever be 6ft4 but everyone is different, everyone comes in different shapes and sizes.

“What we needed was someone who could handle the ball in tight situations and not be afraid to take it.”

However, Reid subsequently became less central to Keane’s plans, as he was often left out of the first XI prior to his departure as manager.

Keane, during his time as Ipswich, also said of Reid in 2009:

“‘Andy Reid has as much quality as any player but he doesn’t deserve to be in the Ireland squad at this moment in time, as he’s not doing enough. I think Reidy could be fitter.”

Aiden McGeady

McGeady worked under Martin O’Neill at Celtic as a young up-and-coming player, with the Northern Irishman often fondly referring to his protégé as Aideninho. He was also linked with signing the player at both Sunderland and Aston Villa, at one stage telling reporters:

“I think Aiden McGeady has the ability to play in the Premier League, without question.

“I had him as a kid at Celtic and played him without worrying too much about his youth.

“He played against AC Milan one night in the Champions League at Celtic Park and he was absolutely fantastic.”

Robbie Keane (among others)

YouTube credit:  MrBeanyman62

Robbie Keane is one of the few current Irish players that was around for Mick McCarthy’s infamous falling out with Roy Keane in Saipan. He is not known to have taken a stance on the issue and didn’t back either person publicly, though he is not thought to be one of the small group of players who came to Roy’s room to wish him the best before he departed from the World Cup squad.

However, following Ireland’s loss to Spain at the Euros, (Roy) Keane wrote in a newspaper column:

“You’ll never beat the Irish? It’s time for that song to be put away because, at the moment, everyone is beating them. I’m sick of this ‘win, lose, we’re on the booze’ mentality. It has to change.”

“The likes of (Robbie) Keane, Shay Given, Richard Dunne, John O’Shea and Damien Duff are picked every game as they have a big reputation. A reputation for what? They hadn’t qualified for anything in 10 years.

“They love having a dig back when I say something but I tell you now, I’ll be ready if they do because players have to be accountable for how the team did.

“I’m trying to be constructive but the manager and players all have to be accountable. It’s no good shrugging our shoulders and having a sing-song.”

John O’Shea

YouTube credit: Press Association

Keane and O’Shea played together at Manchester United and the defender was one of those criticised by the then-club captain. During an interview with MUTV, the latter allegedly remarked of O’Shea while analysing the club’s 4-1 defeat by Middlesbrough: “He’s just strolling around but he should be bursting a gut to get back.”

Martin O’Neill, of course, managed O’Shea at Sunderland, making him captain and regularly picking him at centre-back.

Alex Ferguson, in his recently released autobiography, also claimed that Keane “picked on” O’Shea during his time at United, criticising younger players such as the Irish defender and not giving them the respect he reserved for more high-profile stars.

Kevin Doyle and Stephen Hunt

The duo also did not escape Keane’s wrath for Ireland’s Euro 2012 failure, commenting at the time:

“I can’t think of one player who has had a good season at club level. A couple of years ago Kevin Doyle was linked with Arsenal. Now he’s heading back to the Championship. Stephen Hunt has been relegated three times in five years.

“Their club form is poor and no player has come out of the two games with any credit. Not one. That’s why Giovanni Trapattoni should make 11 changes against Italy tomorrow.”

Damien Delaney

During the pair’s time at Ipswich together, the club had to deny reports that they came to blows after Keane left the defender out of the side.

Keane explained Delaney’s omission, saying:

“Damien was suspended for the West Brom game when the team kept a clean sheet and I thought [Tommy Smith and Troy Brown] played reasonably well.

“I didn’t think there was any reason to change it.

“Damo had a run out in the reserves in the week and he’ll have a chance of being involved on Saturday.”

After Keane had left the club, Delaney then blamed him for receiving a speeding ticket. He told South East Suffolk magistrates: “I had an unreasonable boss [at the time] and was worried I’d be docked two weeks’ wages.”

Delaney also scored an own goal as Ipswich lost 1-0 against Nottingham Forest in Keane’s last game in charge at the club.

Owen Garvan

image(Roy Keane sold Owen Garvan while manager of Ipswich – Simon Galloway/EMPICS Sport)

The then-Ipswich fan favourite was deemed surplus to requirements by Roy Keane during his time managing the club.

Garvan moved to Palace and subsequently helped them gain promotion to the Premier League. Reflecting on his time at Ipswich, he said:

“Last season was a difficult one for me and I was left out of the team for a long while.

“I thought I was good enough to play but the man who picks the team did not.

“You’ve got no chance then.

“I could have had another year at Ipswich, but football is a short career and I am at an age when I want to play.”

Paul McShane

YouTube credit: worldfootballbook

Keane brought McShane to Sunderland for £2.5million and picked him often enough.

However, in 2009, he also implied that McShane, along with Shay Given, was at fault for the goal which Ireland conceded against France, commenting:  ”I’d be more annoyed with my defenders and my goalkeeper than Thierry Henry. How can you leave a ball bounce in the six-yard box? How can you let Thierry Henry get goalside of you? If the ball bounces into the six-yard box, I’d be saying, ‘Where the hell is my goalkeeper?’”

McShane, however, has said during the past week that international football is something Keane would be suited to, and backed his prospective appointment.

Anthony Stokes

Keane brought Stokes to Sunderland, though the striker didn’t see too much first-team action during his time there.

The Cork native also criticised Stokes for his off-field activities, bemoaning the frequency at which he appeared at a particular nightclub in the city.

Keane added in a post-match interview with the BBC: “He could be a top player or he could be playing non-league in five years.”

The nightclub in question also subsequently barred Stokes from entering thanks to Keano’s words of wisdom.

Stephen Ireland

Keane is known to be a big admirer of Ireland. When the then-Man City player was at the height of his powers in 2009, he said:

“He would obviously make a big, big, difference to the Irish team. He looks happy in himself, playing for Man City. He’s been one of the most consistent players in the Premiership this season, in a team that has been inconsistent.

“He might have a reason [for not playing] and we have to respect that whatever it might be. But never say never. I’d keep persevering. If I was Trapattoni, I would literally sleep outside his house.”

James McClean

YouTube credit: Press Association

O’Neill gave McClean his debut at Sunderland and the winger flourished initially under the Irishman.

The then-Sunderland boss also backed his fellow Derryman after the player started receiving boos from a section of the Sunderland support.

The relationship between the pair wasn’t always entirely problem-free however, as at one stage, O’Neill had to sit down with McClean and discuss his tendency to tweet controversial statements.

In light of the incident in which he described Ireland’s performances against Kazakhstan as a “f**king joke” and suggested he should be in the team, O’Neill commented:

“He has even admitted himself he has been rather foolish.

“He has taken himself off Twitter. Apparently he might have a situation with Facebook as well and about 14 other accounts that he has.

“It’s good when the player not only wants to play, but he also wants to manage the team as well.

“James is rather young for that at the moment. I think Mr Trapattoni has got a couple of years on him and a couple of titles, too, so I think he’s entitled to pick the team.”

In addition, McClean this week gave his backing to the prospective management team.

Martin O’Neill on what it means to be Irish>

5 qualities that Martin O’Neill will bring to the Ireland job>

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

Read next: