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Dublin: 8°C Wednesday 21 October 2020


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Good afternoon and welcome to the Aviva Stadium. At 3pm Roy Keane will meet the media to officially launch his new autobiography, The Second Half, and take a few questions.

By this stage, as you know, a lot of the juiciest headlines have been covered. The book was supposed to be under lock and key until it hit the shelves this morning, but that plan went out the window when Tesco in Burnage, England, put a few copies on sale on Monday morning.

Once the genie was out of the bottle, there was no putting it back.

Earlier this morning, copies of the book were made available to the media who have been frantically skimming all 296 pages (including the index) for any hidden gems. It’s like the World Cup final for competitive speed-readers really.

Full disclosure: I read the first chapter, about the Alf-Inge Haaland hearing, and then started skipping through the rest.

Here’s what all the fuss is about. £20 cover price for those of you who are wondering, which I guess translates to about €23.99.


There has been a bit of a buzz around this part of the Aviva Stadium this morning and, to be honest, it feels like we’re a world away from Ireland’s training camp in Malahide and preparations for Saturday’s game against Gibraltar.

The room has filled up over the last 15 minutes as journalists take their seats and ponder the precise wording of their questions ahead of Keane’s arrival.

The man himself is off getting a few photos taken, I believe.

I quite enjoyed this bit on Kenny Cunningham who had taken over as Ireland captain when Keane was recalled post-Saipan by Brian Kerr.

Keane reveals that he wanted the armband himself but wasn’t prepared to make an issue of it with Kerr:

“But Kenny Cunningham was the captain. I’d played with Kenny over the years. He was popular with the players. He’d always be organising card schools and quizzes and whip-rounds for the bus driver and for the woman who’d served us tea in 19-fuckin’-52. But most of the lads liked him.”

Just to put everyone’s mind at ease, my phone is definitely on silent. God help the person who forgets this afternoon…

What kind of questions will Keane face when he finally arrives?

The biggest headlines over the last few days have focused on his United exit and a few rants at Fergie and Carlos Quieroz, how he was the biggest loser in Saipan, as well as some less-reported insights about his low self-esteem and a “mid-life crisis.”

It’s all on the table here really.

There they are, Roy and Roddy. Some journos suspected that Roy might shave the beard for his big day but it’s still there in all its two-tone glory.

Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

3pm by my watch. Kick-off is imminent.

While we’re waiting, I did find a few other nice bits and pieces earlier, particularly on Dubliner Shane Supple who quit pro football at the age of 22 (“I admired him for it”)

Here’s Roy! He’s joined by Jim Binchy of Hachette Ireland.

This was supposed to be a “world exclusive,” Binchy jokes. Roy chuckles and shakes his head.

The first question is about working with Roddy Doyle.

“One of the reasons I worked with Roddy is I know what a good writer he is.

“I had no real plans to write a book,” he admits, especially when “people were telling a pack of lies about him”

“It was really enjoyable I have to say.”

“I’ve been pretty harsh with myself,” Keane says when asked about the introspective element of the book.

“It was a chance for me to reflect.”

Will he ever forgive Alex Ferguson after their fall-out?

“I’m not sure,” Keane pauses. “Good question.”

Football is a small world, he says, but a lot of the problem is with the “nonsense” that came out after the fact.

It was “ridiculous” for Ferguson to criticise the people who brought him success.

Roy is asked a) if he plans to meet Fergie who is in Dublin tonight and b) if he is keeping the beard.

It’s a no to the pint and a maybe to the beard.

Roy again makes reference to the “pack of lies” written about him by former colleagues and team-mates over the year.

“There are people in this room who have mates who are quite happy to tell lies about me.”

“Eventually, you have to defend yourself.”

Roy is asked about his Irish pride, something which he says in the book has grown stronger over the years.

He says there were “one or two idiots in the Irish media who had the power to write headlines, writing that I didn’t want to play for Ireland.”

The people who put the most pressure on him re international football were people who didn’t care how Ireland did.

“There are a few regrets about that, maybe I should have fought my corner a bit more.”

Keane admits he took his “eye off the ball” when it came to international football and Ireland, but it makes it all the sweeter to be back involved now.

“I was probably about 10th choice” for Celtic, Keane said, and negotiations didn’t go the way he would have liked.

“I’m not sitting around waiting for managers to lose their jobs. I’m not that kind of personality.”

Roy is asked if a dressing room code of silence still exists.

He makes it clear that a lot of those details in the book are him simply correcting the record.

People have focused on the Schmeichel headbutt incident, he says, but the two of them had breakfast together last year.

“The highlight of my career was always the player I played with.”

“I don’t miss the carry-on that’s gone on amongst players.”

Keane is asked how he knew he was at the end with United. He makes reference to the MUTV interview:

“You had a lot of the nonsense coming out, a lot of leaked propaganda.”

“Ferguson had pals in the media. I can spot em a mile away. There’s a few here today.”

“You have to bide your time… so here we go.”

Roy is asked who he would look up to as a mentor. His team-mates, he says.

“The stuff I learned mostly was from Stuart Pearce or Steve Bruce or Pallister when you’re in battles with them.”

“The days I had with those lads were probably the best days of my life.”

When people try to tarnish that, you’ve to come out fighting.

“Enough is enough.”

And so ends the first part of Keane’s media briefing. He’ll break out now into smaller groups to speak to individual sections of the media and do some one-on-one interviews.

Expect to read plenty more of that later today and tomorrow.

About the author:

Niall Kelly