Bitter, steely rain whipped in off the Malahide Estuary and Roy Keane pulled up his hoody with a grin. It would take more than a briny spatter to shift him out of the good mood he’s in.
Everyone who writes about Keane feels the need to explain whether he’s in good form or not and often, his appearance at an event is filtered through his demeanour. Good gig if he’s smiling, hide the children if he’s not.
Back in the day, he did nothing to dispel the myth of madman/warrior/monster given to him by the English tabloids. He did some pretty out there magazine covers - one with a raven’s head for Scottish photographer Murdo McLeod lodges in the memory - and he was a willing subject.
Now, he has a different agenda. It’s about spring cleaning and in an odd sort of way, doing penance in public for working against the consensus.
McLeod tells the story of how the raven snap came about in the foyer of a Manchester hotel after Keane had finished an interview with the
“Having only a few minutes to take the photographs I produced my rotting head of a dead raven from my pocket and held it to my eye, saying. Could you do this?’ Taking the ravens head he said do you mean like this’ and I said yes’.”
“After a few shots he said he really had to go as his taxi was waiting. I put away my raven’s head and started to pack up.”
That was in 2002, not long after Saipan but whisper it, we may just be over the hump. Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of that fateful day and nobody mentioned it once.
What was mentioned was the never ending parade of speculation about Keane’s employment status and most recently, Celtic.
“You just said the word speculation, well that is your job isn’t it? I have a job,” said Keane but if the words look like a sharp rebuke they were anything but. He was laughing away at the good of it.
“Well I was up there for six months and hardly kicked a ball for them. No, of course I played for them and its one of the world’s greatest clubs but I’ve got a job.”
He has already gained considerably, however from his association with a job, any job, something he is clearly tickled by.
“It’s amazing, strangely enough when I was out of a job there was speculation about nothing,” he said chuckling. “I have got a job. I’m not taking a pay cut for nobody!”
Keane has always used the media well. He knows how to create headlines and that was a good one for today but he would he hesitate to set up a “Keane Quit Shock” storyline if the offer comes along?
Probably not. But for now, he is enjoying himself and couldn’t raise even a puff of red mist when the vexed question Stephen Ireland was raised. “I think you spoke to Martin about that and he made it clear that he is not shutting the door on any player,” he said.
“I said in previous media that Stephen is a good player and you hope to have all the players available, but it happens in other teams and countries that players don’t want to make themselves available, and Stephen….obviously not at the moment.”
When it was pointed out that he once said he would sleep outside Ireland’s house to get him back: “If I was manager, yeah, but I’m not the manager.”
But surely, Ireland has not done enough? Surely he should have picked up the phone?
“You would have to ask Stephen. The last time I bumped into him was maybe five or six years ago but other than that I don’t know the ins and outs of it. I really don’t know so I don’t want to be guessing,” he said.
So we learned one thing yesterday. Keane is not involved in the Stephen Ireland project and might have a different view of how it should be approached.
But if we didn’t know it already, we also learned who the boss is.