BBC SPORT Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC Sport
    You are in: BBC Pundits  
Sport Front Page
-------------------
Football
Cricket
Rugby Union
Rugby League
Tennis
Golf
Motorsport
Boxing
Athletics
Other Sports
-------------------
Special Events
-------------------
Sports Talk
-------------------
BBC Pundits
TV & Radio
Question of Sport
-------------------
Photo Galleries
Funny Old Game
-------------------
Around The UK: 
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales

BBC Sport Academy
BBC News
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS

   Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 17:27 GMT
Ireland's riches to rags story
Mick McCarthy was Ireland's manager during the 2002 World Cup but resigned in November
Mick McCarthy left his job as Republic manager

BBC Sport Online's Lyle Jackson

Republic of Ireland football kicked off 2002 on a high, looking forward optimistically to the World Cup finals.

But, as the final whistle sounds on the year, things are at an unbelievably low ebb. A real riches to rags story.

In June, the Irish came home from a highly satisfactory World Cup campaign.

Mick McCarthy's men had, not for the first time, punched above their weight, and just losing out on penalties to Spain in the last 16 was a fine achievement.

But the whole thing was overshadowed by the Roy Keane business.

And the headline-dominating saga has refused to go away after the World Cup, ensuring Ireland ended 2002 without a manager, without their best player and without a point in the Euro 2004 qualifying campaign.

Big bust-up

Most of us had never heard of Saipan until the Republic chose the idyllic Asian island as base before moving on to Japan for their World Cup group matches.

There had been murmurings of a tense relationship between manager McCarthy and captain Keane, but no-one imagined it would explode the way it did.

Keane's pre-World Cup one-to-one interview with the Irish Times put a blowtorch to the fuse.

Roy Keane training with Ireland in Saipan
Roy Keane was sent home from the Irish camp

The Manchester United skipper made it clear he was unhappy with things in Saipan. McCarthy was unhappy with Keane's interview and the big bust-up happened at a team meeting.

By the time Ireland arrived at the World Cup finals, they were minus their captain, the player who had done more than any other to secure qualification.

Keane's diplomatic skills are lacking somewhat and, while McCarthy may have inwardly wanted a solution, feelings between the two were too bitter and divisive to permit a public healing of the rift.

However, the other Irish players left the World Cup with their heads held high.

Critics may point out their only win was over Saudi Arabia.

But the manner in which they fought back after going behind to draw with African champions Cameroon and eventual finalists Germany was impressive.

It showed great character, and much-maligned players like Gary Breen and Matt Holland defied their critics with impressive displays.

Endless arguments

But the way things are going, there will not be any eye-catching performances from Irish players in the next major football finals, Euro 2004.

With all the fall-out from the Keane fiasco and the endless arguments which have ensued, McCarthy's team lost their first two qualifying games.

The poor start persuaded McCarthy it would be better if he moved on.

The Dublin media were not going to let go of the Keane thing and the whole business was starting to drag the team down.

And so to 2003. Who will be the new manager? Will Roy Keane play for his country again?

Ireland's football might not be the most exciting to watch, but off the field there is never a dull moment.

See also:

26 Nov 02 | Barnsley
19 Nov 02 | Republic of Ireland
13 Nov 02 | Republic of Ireland
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Top BBC Pundits stories now:

Links to more BBC Pundits stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more BBC Pundits stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

Sport Front Page | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League |
Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Other Sports |
Special Events | Sports Talk | BBC Pundits | TV & Radio | Question of Sport |
Photo Galleries | Funny Old Game | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales