Roy and Roddy make a dream team to tell the tale of Cork star’s ‘second half’

Roddy Doyle: “I’m delighted to be writing this book with Roy”

Roddy Doyle: “I’m delighted to be writing this book with Roy”


After waiting more than a decade for an Irish sports blockbuster to rival Roy Keane’s The Autobiography, we are now, it seems, to get two during the latter part of this year.

Brian O’Driscoll’s has been in the pipeline now for a couple of years and is expected to be on the shelves in the autumn.

But now, in what should make for a remarkable head- to-head, the former Manchester United skipper has returned to the market.

This time Keane (42) has forged a surprise partnership with Booker Prize-winning author Roddy Doyle, who takes over at the typewriter from Eamon Dunphy to produce The Second Half, part two of the Keane’s biography.

The 2002 book was intended at the time to leave scope for a follow-up, but it is not quite clear whether Keane has been prompted to start reminiscing again by Alex Ferguson’s My Autobiography, which came out in October.

Among its many offences from the Cork man’s point of view was the way that it repeated the error, which had so riled Keane as he was shown the door at Old Trafford, that he had spent 11 rather than 12 years at Manchester United.

Ferguson said at the time that he expected Keane would have something to say; the Ireland assistant manager’s new book seems certain to have at least a few pages devoted to his former friend and mentor.

The good folk at Hachette Ireland will not be complaining. Orion, one of the group’s publishing companies, is behind The Second Half while another, Hodder & Stoughton, published the Ferguson book.  

That was the group’s biggest revenue spinner of 2013 with more than 60,000 copies believed to have been sold in the Republic and more than 10 times that were shifted in Britain and Northern Ireland.

That’s broadly in line with the roughly 100,000 and one million plus that Keane sold in the respective territories more than a decade ago, given that the overall market is reckoned to have declined by about 35 per cent since then.

The Second Half, which the company already expects to be its biggest earner this year, will be up against O’Driscoll’s as yet untitled biography, written with Paul Kimmage, which is also due out in the autumn from Penguin.

With publication dates likely to be kept apart by a few weeks, however, there appears to be confidence within the industry that the market will be big enough for both to thrive in the run-up to Christmas.

In the meantime, Doyle is quoted in yesterday’s press release as saying: “I’m delighted to be writing this book with Roy,” while Keane, in reply, says:  “I am very happy to be working with Roddy Doyle on this book.”

It is safe to assume that the actual read will be a little more compelling.