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RED MIST? MORE LIKE a grey fog

PICTURE the scene. The most outspoken man in football in an empty field and Sepp Blatter in an empty place. Surely, surely Roy Keane would have something to say? Nope. Nothing. Nada. Red Mist? More like grey fog.

Move along, there's a football match on here was his message and one part of the soul said, he's right. It's England on Sunday and the endless series of revelations, claims and counter claims has taken over our lives.

But the other part said come on Roy. Tell it as it is. Give it to us straight between the eyes.

For anyone who retained some sense that Keane still represented an unbreakable pillar of righteousness, this wasn't reassuring.

The build-up to almost every game prior to this one was dominated completely by events relating to Keane, whether it was book promotion, full contact book signing or just a standard rant, it was all about the Corkman.

This time, it's all about Sepp, FIFA and locally, the FAI and John Delaney's €5m deal for the Thierry Henry handball.

Keano has had plenty to say on most of those subjects in the past. In fact, it was often hard to shut him up. Never mind. It is England and we'll be talking about FIFA for a while yet.

We tried to sneak up on him. He was asked if he agreed that a game was over when the referee blew the final whistle. Previously, his message was that the FAI should get on with it and forget about the Henry handball. This time was different.

"I'm sure that there are certain situations where the final whistle wasn't (the end). Was there one with Sheffield United and Arsenal? The women's international they played the last few minutes (England v Norway)? The Arsenal game was replayed so if you want to talk about specific incidents then we've just said there are two games that had to be replayed."

We moved on. Good to be here with no distractions this time?


"I've got plenty on my mind.," he said laughing. "The beauty when you come together is that one of the benefits is when you're here you're just focused on the game coming up. At the hotel, you're mixing with the staff, you're with the players, honestly, there seems to be no distractions this week (laughs) whatever seems to be going on in the outside world."

"It's like Big Brother back at the house, we don't read what you write."

Is it a good thing for players to be so cocooned in a bubble?

"From a player's point of view, I've been at clubs where distractions about managers, chief executives or a player who's coming or going, players can be very much in the zone. I don't know if it's selfish.

"'If you pull the players as they are coming off the pitch there," Keane nods to the Irish goalkeepers putting in extra work.

"Fordey, Shay, Westy who are all thinking they can play. And you say 'lads, what's going on with FIFA? Or anything else in the planet? They'd say "I'm ready for the game."

Preparation which includes games against Northern Ireland and England has obvious risks and Keane is aware that players commitment levels will be high tomorrow.

"The England game will be up a level as they are expecting nearly a full house and we'll be narrowing it down in terms of getting ready for the Scotland game with team selection. The proof will be in the pudding next weekend. We've all had preparations when you've done brilliantly, you turn up then and it's just now happening.

"Another time, you question your preparation and it goes really well. From our point of view, the two games will be spot on. Please God, we can get through Sunday without any injuries.

"Against Northern Ireland, we had the chance to change the team completely, we won't be able to do that on Sunday. There were tackles going in but nothing over the top which did concern me, I have to say, before the game. I thought 'this could get a bit silly' but, no, it was pretty good.

"This is an international game and you are playing England, fans will put demands on players.

"Hopefully the players will put demands on themselves for a good performance. There are positions up for grabs the following weekend so you hope there is an edge."