EX-SUNDERLAND boss Martin O’Neill has given his number two at the Republic of Ireland Roy Keane his full backing following an incident at the team hotel.
The Football Association of Ireland expressed its support for the 43-year-old on Wednesday night as reports emerged of an alleged altercation as the team’s Portmarnock base, and O’Neill, whose side faces Scotland in a vital Euro 2016 qualifier in Glasgow on Friday evening, has now endorsed that.
Reading a statement on camera, he said: “The FAI and I have been fully briefed about the circumstances of what happened at the team hotel last night.
“Roy asked that the Gardai be called and he has notified them of what happened. While this process is ongoing, we are unable to say more at this point.
“However, I can say that having been made aware of the facts, Roy has both my full support and the full support of the FAI and [chief executive] John Delaney.
“We are now focussed, as we have been all week, on the game at hand and we won’t be saying anything more about this issue.”
Gardai and an ambulance were called to the team hotel on Wednesday afternoon, and reports soon began to surface that Keane had allegedly been involved in an incident with another man.
The FAI later insisted that the it was the former Ireland captain who had summoned officers.
Its statement said: “Following inaccurate media reports which refer to an incident involving a member of the public this evening at the Republic of Ireland team hotel, we wish to clarify that Roy Keane called the Gardai following the incident.
“The manager, Martin O’Neill and the FAI are fully aware of the circumstances surrounding this event, and the assistant manager has their full support.”
Gardai confirmed they had attended, but that no arrest or complaint had been made.
It is understood that CCTV cameras were operating in the area of the hotel in which the exchange took place.
O’Neill and Keane, who celebrated a year in charge of the Ireland team last week, could well have done without the blaze of unwelcome publicity as they finalise their preparations for the game at Celtic Park.
The Republic currently sit joint top of Group D along with Poland after taking seven of the first nine points on offer, the last of them from a creditable 1-1 draw with world champions Germany in Gelsenkirchen last month.
A positive result against the Scots would raise confidence further as they attempt to secure one of the two automatic qualification places up for grabs.