FORMER Sunderland manager Roy Keane took journalists to task when asked if he was becoming a “distraction” to Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland mission.
The assistant manager and two reporters became embroiled in a row after a week during which the 43-year-old was alleged to have been involved in an incident with a man named in Ireland as Frank Gillespie at the team hotel in Portmarnock.
O’Neill’s side were beaten 1-0 in their Euro 2016 qualifier with Scotland at Celtic Park at the weekend.
Read the FULL transcript here:
Reporter: “I expect to get the stare but I’m going to ask it anyway. Martin was asked before the match about the incident, and he said it was a distraction, but he’d moved on. In the last six months - I’d like your thoughts on this - between the Celtic link, Villa link, the book being published and the incident last week.”
Keane interrupts: “’I’m not giving you any comment. Why would you think I have to give you an opinion on everything? Do you think you’ve a right to sit there and ask me anything you want and get an answer? I think I’ve been more than fair with you.”
Reporter: “You have. But my point is Martin has been asked about distractions. Has he had enough of those distractions?”
Keane: “What are you asking me for? What are you talking about? What distractions? Can I do anything about the Celtic stuff?”
Reporter: “Yeah, Celtic and Villa.”
Keane: “Can I do anything about them things that come up? If I get approached about a job and I’m up front with the manager and the media, do you want me to... how is that a distraction? What can I do about that? You’re making out I’m bringing all these distractions on.”
Reporter: “So they just happen, they’re just coincidences?”
Keane: “Well, if a club approaches me, these things just happen, yeah. How is the book....you think the book’s a distraction to a group of professional people? Do me a favour.
“And then people all writing about the incident the other night, lies... and people have got pals and talking to them. You think I’ve got to justify that to everyone? You all sit there and think I’ve got to answer to everything?
“Who in the hell do you think you are? I’ve got to answer to you? I answer to the FAI and Martin. And if we don’t get the right results, I’ll be gone and you won’t lose a minute’s sleep,so don’t worry about distractions. The things you write about are distractions.”
Reporter: “It was an obvious thing to write about. There was an incident, so we had to write about it.”
Keane: “Exactly. But you’re on about Celtic and Aston Villa. What do you want me to do about them? If Celtic approached me, what did you want me to say? You couldn’t get enough of it. So what can I do about the Celtic situation?”
Reporter: “I don’t know. It was extraordinary that Martin brought it into our attention.”
Keane: “And what other incidents? The book? Do you think the book was a distraction? An agreement was made six months before it was out.”
[Press officer attempts to intervene] “Leave it there, thanks.”
Keane: “Ask Martin. What’s he said?”
Reporter: “I think he’s had enough of these (distractions).”
Keane: “Go and ask him. Go and see him in the lobby. You’re not brave enough to ask him?”
Reporter: “I am brave enough to ask him.”
Keane: “Go and ask him. You’re asking me what Martin O’Neill might be thinking? Why don’t you ask Martin?”
[Press officer] “All right.”
Keane: “What if we qualified? Do you think it will be a distraction? Are you thinking it’s all a distraction from the result the other night?”
Reporter: “It was the build-up to the game for 24 hours. Everyone was talking about it.”
Keane: “What was the problem?”
Reporter: “We were all talking about it.”
Keane: “Talking about what? Talking about something you don’t have a clue about, and everyone writing lies. The usual nonsense. ‘This happened, that happened...’”
Second reporter: “You said you wouldn’t talk about Frank [Gillespie] and what happened the other night. Have you anything to say about it?”
Keane: “Frank? You know him?”
Second reporter: “Yes.”
Keane: “Of course you do. You know him well. You know Mick McCarthy well, don’t you? You know Frank well, don’t you?”
Second reporter: “Do you want to say anything about the other night?”
Keane doesn’t respond. He gets up and leaves the room. As he does, the two reporters thank him.
He pauses briefly and says: “For what?”
First reporter: “For your time.”