‘He didn’t have the baby, did he?’: O’Neill and Keane in quotes

Charting an era from the light and airy first few months to spats with Tony O’Donoghue

Former Ireland manager Martin O’Neill with assistant manager Roy Keane ahead of the Euro 2016 second round clash with France. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Former Ireland manager Martin O’Neill with assistant manager Roy Keane ahead of the Euro 2016 second round clash with France. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

“I think I’m the bad cop – and he’s the bad, bad cop.” – Martin O’Neill on what the Republic of Ireland players could expect from his and Roy Keane’s reign. A whole heap of badness.

“I’m going to have to be the good cop – you obviously don’t know Martin as well as you think you do, he makes me look like ... Mother Teresa.” – Keane insisting that he was the softie in the managerial set-up.

“Hotel’s been great, the food’s been lovely, the training ground is lovely – no potholes, we’ve footballs, there’s even bibs. Major progress.” – Keane, with a sizeable grin, doffing his cap to the FAI’s organisational skills.

“Oh, I think you’re going far too far up the road now for James to be captain of the side – he’s a lunatic. But a great lunatic. When James is the captain, I’ll be long dead by that time.” – O’Neill speaking in November 2016. McClean captained his country six months later, and the gaffer was still breathing.

“I like Meyler, I signed him. One of my better signings ... but that wouldn’t have been hard.” – Keane sort of paying tribute to David.

“Remember that time when he was stepping on to the pitch against ... was it Poland? And even Roy had said to him – Roy, of all people – ‘be careful’. And he said, ‘I am, I am, I will be, I will be, I will be’. And then the Polish boy’s legs were over the stand.” – O’Neill on James McClean’s fondness for bone-crunching tackles on being released from the bench.

“He didn’t have the baby, did he? Unless he’s breastfeeding he should be fine.” – Keane on whether Robbie Keane would be available for Euro 2016 qualifiers against Germany and Poland after the birth of his son.

“Well, it depends on how good looking the girls are. If they are really attractive, they’re very, very welcome. The uglier ones, I’m afraid not.” – O’Neill on whether the players’ wives and girlfriends would be allowed visit the team hotel at the Euro 2016 finals.

“These guys are entitled to their opinion. They’ve played at a decent level. Well, two of them have played at a decent level.” – Keane on criticism of Ireland’s performances by the RTE panel of Liam Brady, John Giles and Eamon Dunphy. Dunno who he thought was the odd man out.

O’Neill and Keane celebrate after beating Bosnia and Herzegovina to qualify for Euro 2016. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
O’Neill and Keane celebrate after beating Bosnia and Herzegovina to qualify for Euro 2016. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

“I always felt the Everton players were going to turn up on crutches or crawling in the hotel door. It looks like we’re going to have that issue again. Maybe they’re overloading players with games, but that usually means you’re playing midweek games and Everton don’t do that because they don’t play European football.” – Keane in the midst of a long-running battle with then Everton manager Ronald Koeman over James McCarthy’s fitness.

“He would join my to-call list, but I should first put a call into Trump to congratulate him. And then give my commiserations to Hillary. Then somewhere down the line, Koeman.” – O’Neill on his plans to have a chat, at some stage, with Koeman about McCarthy.

“We go into Malahide and have a coffee, it’s fine. We were out last night for a meal, it was fine. We’re not One Direction.” – Keane on not being mobbed by screaming teens when out and about in Dublin with his players.

“Maybe that’s why he only managed eight games, that might be something to do with it.” – O’Neill delivering the mother of all miaows in Alan Shearer’s direction, suggesting his criticism of Cyrus Christie’s performance for Fulham against Arsenal was a touch uninformed.

“I didn’t cry myself to sleep when he made the decision. After today I am hoping I won’t have to keep answering questions about a player who has chosen to play for England.” – Keane on Jack Grealish’s decision to declare for Blighty.

“Just before we did our interview you said to me, ‘Hard luck’, just before we went on air. What did you mean by that? You weren’t being disingenuous about it were you?” – O’Neill spotting something sinister in Tony O’Donoghue’s commiserations following that 5-1 World Cup play-off defeat by Denmark.

“I told Harry that if he had a fallout with management, I was the right person to talk to. I used to fall out with Mr Clough, but we won European Cups.” – O’Neill on Arter’s [alleged] bust-up with Keane.

“He’s Irish. He plays for Ireland. Where else would he want to go, if you had a choice, Ireland or England? It’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it? Ireland.” – Keane on the will-he-won’t-he-play-for-us Declan Rice saga. Which, alas, has not been straightforward.

“Because I’m good.” – O’Neill on being asked last month why he remained confident the team would qualify for Euro 2020.

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