Saturday 22 October 2016

Keane means business

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane at yesterday’s press conference
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane at yesterday’s press conference
Roy Keane presents Ian Turner of Limerick FC with his SSE/SWAI Airtricity Player of the Month Award for October 2015

On a day borrowed from summer, spirits lifted out at the FAI's training centre. In walked Roy Keane wearing a beaming smile and that wasn't bad either.

It's always easier when he's in good form, even if the material is rarely as interesting as the dog days when his eyes are hooded and a small dark cloud sits above his head.

He was all business and when he's in this mood, you have to stop yourself making comparisons with Martin O'Neill, usually favourable to Keane.

In a very simplistic way, Keane appeals to the warrior in all of us and when he dismissed the relentless drone of injury news as nothing more than a distraction and spoke instead about going to Bosnia and scoring some goals, he hit the right notes.

In this case, we in the media can shoulder a lot of the blame for the drone about John O'Shea's hamstring or Shane Long's knee. Sam Allardyce and Steve McClaren take the lion's share but it's a long run in to Zenica and we have to talk about something.

Keane understands this all too well and in the past, he has provided countless acres of newsprint with content. Not today though. Straight bat.

"With the injuries over the last two weeks I kind of ruled them out anyway. If they become available, fantastic bonus. The injuries they had were sore ones," he said.

"I never thought for one minute we'd turn up and everyone would be available.

"I think it would be different if this had come up in the last one or two days and it's thrown our plans but part of me had ruled Shane out anyway and Sheasy and one or two of the lads that have got serious knocks and to focus on the lads that are here.

"If the lads get back in the next day or two or for the second-leg it would be fantastic but with the type of injuries they've had, it would be a big risk to bring the lads back into an international game anyway, especially on Friday.


"The extra two days might help us no doubt so I've kind of been preparing in my own mindset that these lads won't be available. Even Sheasy, the way he pulled up, you just knew it was a sore one. Whatever people say about a quick recovery and this and that, it's three, four, five week jobs I think."

Moving on to the task at hand, Keane has had a good look at Bosnia since the draw was made and ominously, he's impressed.

"They've been at a really good level, the form they've been in the last three or four games. I've been hugely impressed with them.

"They showed a good attitude in one or two of the games I've seen where they've gone behind and scored at vital times," said Keane.

"They've got some really good players. I'll bore you to death but so have we. If you're a punter and on the outside, I think it's a hard one to call. But we'll get everything we have and see where that takes us, focus on the performance.

"We've had the usual roller-coaster ride from the last trip. The highs of the Germany game and the disappointment of Poland and even the last time when we got together, we had all the scenarios going on, if this happens and this happens, you might be seeded, you might not be.

"This is straightforward. There's no indecision, you either qualify or you don't qualify. At least when the draw was made it was like 'bang, let's focus on Bosnia, let's focus on the players who are here in the last day or two'.

"I know lads are doing a lot of talking about the players who aren't here and those that might be and there's also players who have come back from long-term injuries like Harry Arter. We have to monitor all these boys.

"Lads who haven't been playing regularly, lads who've been getting a run of games, people like Meyler, Clarky back involved with Villa. Let's not get distracted by the four, five, six lads who aren't here."

One player who is definitely present and correct is Daryl Murphy, a Keane favourite and the proud scorer of a hat-trick at the weekend.

That's the kind of story Keane wants to hear.

"It was perfect for Daryl. No doubt he's worked hard to get that reward. A hat-trick - I don't care who you are - will do you the world of good.

"Even as a young kid or playing amateur, if you score a hat-trick you're going to be upbeat and if Murph gets the nod on Friday, he won't let us down," said the Ireland assistant manager.

"I know there's all that 'can he get that extra bit at international?' He can, I think he can score goals at international level. He needs a break like everybody else.

"I've played with really good strikers at international level and it takes a while sometimes to get one or two goals under his belt.

"He was never going to get as many goals as he did last year, I think we're all aware of that and that's not underestimating Murph because he was so brilliant last year. But that hat-trick will do him and Ipswich the world of good."

James McCarthy was also a target for some positivity: "I've no problem with James. One or two games recently I think he's really stepped up to the plate and he'll have to do that on Friday if he starts."

"James is playing regularly, getting better. I suppose we expected more from him. You can say that about a number of players as well, (you) want more, but he has stepped up to the plate in the bigger games," claimed Keane.

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