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Monday 24 September 2018

All smiles on TV... now the work begins

CHOREOGRAPHY is never easy when the main players in the show are men who have spent their lives refusing point blank to be placed in a box. But Martin O'Neill's grin and Roy Keane's trademark smirk signalled that all was well and everyone let out a breath.

At last. After many long days of vacuum when every minute item of news was treated with reverence by our digitally charged environment, the real deal.

Clean shaven to the point of rawness and looking every bit the serious professional couple, Marty and Roy – Ireland management team – in front of our very eyes.

Mad as it is to even say that out loud and even if it still requires a quick look behind the curtains and through interlaced fingers, the deal is done and we can now strap ourselves in for the ride.

Bad Cop and bad, bad cop? Probably not, but a great one-liner. It certainly won't be a day out in DisneyWorld.

O'Neill brought his own intense desire to rehabilitate his reputation to the table when talks about the Ireland job moved beyond expressions of interest to actual negotiations. Not that there was much in the way of that either.

"Do you want it?"

"I'll tell you in a month."

That seems to have been the extent of contract with the FAI until the smoke signals went up that O'Neill was ready to commit and believed that the Ireland job offered a path to redemption.

This is a serious business for him and nobody should have any doubts about that. It won't be just a way station on his path to something better.

It may well be that many football fans in this country viewed O'Neill as a sure bet regardless of the way his last two jobs ended, but it can't be any harm that the man seems to be on a mission.

O'Neill and Keane will not be asked to spread the good word across the four green fields of Ireland, but each of them has a bit of the Pied Piper about them and the dividend from success should see talent flowing into the game if they can win enough matches.

What we do with the talent is the burning question and perhaps O'Neill and Keane will have thoughts about that which they might share. But it won't be part of the job specification and that's as it should be.

And while both men often radiate an icy glow of monkish spartanism and might see some value in a purging stroll up Croagh Patrick without their boots, don't expect camera crews nearby.

Contractually, O'Neill and Keane had to turn up and offer their thoughts on David Moyes' ongoing battle to crawl out from under the mountainous persona which still dominates Old Trafford in Spain last night, but I'll bet the FAI would have been much happier if they were tucked away somewhere where nothing unpredictable might occur.

But there was no last-minute hitch and the two lads looked bright, fresh and ready for action. This will be, as they say, an experience.

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