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Saturday, 8 June, 2002, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
No room on bus for Keane
The Irish team picture at the back of their team bus in Japan
Roy Keane erased from back of Irish team bus
BBC Sport Online's Lyle Jackson

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There is no mistaking the bus which takes the Republic of Ireland squad to training every day.

The green coach displays huge pictures of the players.

But there is one man missing from the team photo on the back of the bus.

The figure of former skipper Roy Keane has been taken out, leaving a massive space.

Keane may be conspicuous by his absence as far the bus goes, but what about the team and its impact on this World Cup tournament?

Two weeks ago, you did not have to look far to find prophets of doom.

They said the Republic would not be able to compete without their combative midfielder and captain.

But the evidence so far is that Keane's pre-tournament departure, following a foul-mouthed outburst at manager Mick McCarthy, has galvanised the 22 players remaining.

Ireland did have some shaky moments in the first half of their opening game against Cameroon.

No doubt, Roy Keane's massive contribution to the team was acutely missed.

Ireland's team bus
The Republic's 'Boys in Green' team bus in Japan

But since then they have grown in confidence and stature.

Their equaliser against Germany on Wednesday might have come very late in the day, but the Republic players had refused to lie down to Germany.

Undaunted by the reputation of the three-times winners who had trounced Saudi Arabia 8-0, they kept battering away and ultimately deserved their big break in injury-time.

Without that goal Mick McCarthy would have been the one getting a battering, a written one.

There are some Irish journalists waiting for their chance to stick the knife in.

They are annoyed that during the height of the Keane affair the manager chose to speak, not to them, but to one English newspaper.

Some say that, although Keane did not apologise during his television interview, he looked sorry and should therefore have been invited back by the manager.

However, Keane's offensive remarks, which triggered the whole sorry saga, were not made on television.

Instead of calling in a TV crew, one phone call could have sorted the mess, for the duration of the World Cup at least.

Those ready to give McCarthy a pounding in print are being made to wait a little longer than most of them had initially anticipated.

Keane may not be on the bus, but the Republic of Ireland boys have done the country proud so far.

The destination next week could be South Korea as they have every chance of a place in the last 16.

Surely, manager McCarthy should be congratulated, not castigated, for that.


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GROUP E
  P GD PTS
GERMANY 3 +10 7
IRELAND 3 +3 5
CAMEROON 3 -1 4
SAUDI ARABIA 3 -12 0

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