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Thread: Saipan - 20 Years On

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    Saipan - 20 Years On

    It's dominated Irish football discussion for 20 years, and it's going to discussed at length for the next few weeks as we approach the 20 year anniversary of the Saipan incident

    Still remember sitting in a computer lab in UL when I got a text from a friend of mine that Keane had been sent home - that was the words of the text, whatever actually happened is still up for debate. A friend had booked his flights, tickets, and accommodation for the World Cup, and was considering cancelling it all - he didn't and had an amazing time that he still talks about. Another guy I know was actually on a flight to Japan when it happened and didn't know anything until arriving in Tokyo!

    For days (and weeks, and months, and years) afterwards it was top news on sports websites, I remember opening the Italian site sportal (who sponsored Juventus, I think?) and it was the headline story on the homepage.
    Last edited by tetsujin1979; 07/05/2022 at 1:59 PM.
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    Capped Player SkStu's Avatar
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    I was on a beach in Torremolinos with about 20 other Bohs fans when one of the lads got a text or call from home with the news. We followed it for the next couple of days and there was plenty of split opinions and heated debates when the details were coming out!

    We had been over there for an invitational football tournament in Seville which I believe, iirc, was to support a bid to host a UEFA cup final in the following years…had Sevilla, Betis, Crystal Palace, Copenhagen and a load of other teams.

    Anyway, for me I was resolutely in the McCarthy camp and felt it was the ultimate betrayal by a player. At the time it felt like the sort of stuff you’d read about from a South American, Dutch or Spanish team and have a chuckle about how it would never happen to a team like ours. It was a game changer for us in that regard. But yeah, I was and remained in the McCarthy camp.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkStu View Post
    I was on a beach in Torremolinos with about 20 other Bohs fans when one of the lads got a text or call from home with the news. We followed it for the next couple of days and there was plenty of split opinions and heated debates when the details were coming out!

    We had been over there for an invitational football tournament in Seville which I believe, iirc, was to support a bid to host a UEFA cup final in the following years…had Sevilla, Betis, Crystal Palace, Copenhagen and a load of other teams.

    Anyway, for me I was resolutely in the McCarthy camp and felt it was the ultimate betrayal by a player. At the time it felt like the sort of stuff you’d read about from a South American, Dutch or Spanish team and have a chuckle about how it would never happen to a team like ours. It was a game changer for us in that regard. But yeah, I was and remained in the McCarthy camp.
    Thanks be to jaysus I've found something to disagree with you on. It's always tough liking a post with that crest on it 😅

    It caused mayhem in my group of lads. I was in the minority supporting Keane and it got so heated one night that we were kicked out of the pub!
    Bizarre altogether looking back...I actually met the main friend I disagreed with recently and we went over it all again for the laugh. I still hold that it involved some of the worst man mgmt in sporting history. He remains unconvinced. 20 years have at least cooled the conversation though!

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    So much time has passed that I don't remember the details. I remember how angry I was at Keane, and if time gave me a little perspective it never gave me enough to understand his walking out as anything but an act of sheer ego. It was his way or else.

    Can anyone refresh my memory? As I remember, Keane got increasingly irate as the FAI's training camp turned out to be kicking a big ball of sellotape around a McDonalds car park or something. He exploded at an innocuous joke in a team meeting, called the manager a ... well, the Chinese say shabi ... and stormed off to walk his dog, stormed back in just long enough to prevent Colin Healy from registering as his replacement, and then stormed off again. I admired Keane on the pitch - it wasn't my legs he was trying to break after all - but he was a seething mess of neuroses and anger and I pity anyone who has to work with him.
    Just accept it: 2022 is going to suck.

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    I was always in the McCarthy camp and still am. Not that there wasn't anything that could have been done better in terms of training facilities, but part of me still thinks that if it wasn't that, it would have been something else, he just didn't want to be there that summer for whatever reason.

    But even if that was purely the reason, he should have played on for the duration of the world cup and then retired after the tournament if he was that unhappy playing for Ireland.


    I felt the animosity and division the whole thing caused in Irish football died down a bit after the MON/Keano era turned sour. He showed his true colours again during that time and that made it harder than ever to defend his actions in Saipan. I think he lost a lot of long-standing support at that point and him and O'Neill being replaced by McCarthy to the disappointment of pretty much nobody was probably the final knockout blow that decided the argument.

    With his media gig now he is more of a caricature than a serious football person anyway.
    Last edited by Eirambler; 07/05/2022 at 4:45 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eirambler View Post
    I was always in the McCarthy camp and still am. Not that there wasn't anything that could have been done better in terms of training facilities, but part of me still thinks that if it wasn't that, it would have been something else, he just didn't want to be there that summer for whatever reason.
    I'd echo this alright.

    It always annoyed me a little bit that the Saipan training camp was - as far as I know anyway - just somewhere to take a bit of a break for a few days between the end of the club season and the start of World Cup training proper. OK, I think the complaints about Saipan were maybe valid, but the actual base in Japan was perfect. So yeah, the professional approach was to raise any concerns internally if he wanted, but suck it up for a couple of days' light training and head to the real base then.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John83 View Post
    So much time has passed that I don't remember the details. I remember how angry I was at Keane, and if time gave me a little perspective it never gave me enough to understand his walking out as anything but an act of sheer ego. It was his way or else.

    Can anyone refresh my memory? As I remember, Keane got increasingly irate as the FAI's training camp turned out to be kicking a big ball of sellotape around a McDonalds car park or something. He exploded at an innocuous joke in a team meeting, called the manager a ... well, the Chinese say shabi ... and stormed off to walk his dog, stormed back in just long enough to prevent Colin Healy from registering as his replacement, and then stormed off again. I admired Keane on the pitch - it wasn't my legs he was trying to break after all - but he was a seething mess of neuroses and anger and I pity anyone who has to work with him.
    Oh no. It's happening again. 😅

    It wasn't an innocuous joke at a team meeting. It was a meeting called by McCarthy specifically to confront Keane about an interview he'd given where he criticized the training set up. He had every right to do so as captain and the one who'd almost single handedly dragged us to the tournament. Could have been dealt with in private but McCarthy had to make a statement. It was bizarre. Handled badly on both sides obviously but it was McCarthys job to manage Keane and he failed spectacularly.

    But I've completely gotten over it and moved on. It's been 20 years. Completely over it. It's fine.

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    Whatever gripes Keane had about the facilities, his deeply unpleasant personal attacks on McCarthy revealed an inherently nasty side to his character. McCarthy had got Ireland to the World Cup through a really difficult group from which we emerged unbeaten. Keane played his part, but the lack of respect for the manager and ultimately for his teammates and the Irish people was unforgivable. Great player but flawed character and decidedly mediocre manager and pundit.

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    Keane is a bit of a Knob and the next time one of ye fellas see him make sure to tell him that ! !

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    For the love of God close the thread tets. I cant do it again!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ontheotherhand View Post
    Oh no. It's happening again. 
    It'd be a ****e thread if we all just stood around agreeing that the whole thing was a mess.

    It wasn't an innocuous joke at a team meeting. It was a meeting called by McCarthy specifically to confront Keane about an interview he'd given where he criticized the training set up. He had every right to do so as captain and the one who'd almost single handedly dragged us to the tournament. Could have been dealt with in private but McCarthy had to make a statement. It was bizarre. Handled badly on both sides obviously but it was McCarthys job to manage Keane and he failed spectacularly.
    Cheers, I'd forgotten about The Interview. I can see some merit in all that; like I said, I gained some perspective on it over time, without ceasing to blame Keane mostly.

    But I've completely gotten over it and moved on. It's been 20 years. Completely over it. It's fine.
    There are going to be a few thousand yard stares as people read through this, for sure.
    Just accept it: 2022 is going to suck.

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    Xhttps://www.theguardian.com/football...e-ireland-exit

    This is the best piece I‘ve read on the issue in recent years (The Guardian). It deals with all the twists and turns. Even Will Smith gets a jersey.

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    It's a good account alright. It does breeze over the main incident a bit i.e. the meeting called where Keane erupted after McCarthy called him out. But it gets most of it and gives plenty of Keane's voice. Not sure about the comment that people's main gripe with the FAI was that they favoured Dublin players though......of all the things they've done and not done I'd have that pretty low on my list of complaints.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ontheotherhand View Post
    It's a good account alright. It does breeze over the main incident a bit i.e. the meeting called where Keane erupted after McCarthy called him out. But it gets most of it and gives plenty of Keane's voice. Not sure about the comment that people's main gripe with the FAI was that they favoured Dublin players though......of all the things they've done and not done I'd have that pretty low on my list of complaints.
    The biggest loser was Irish soccer. With Keane leading the side and at full throttle, I believe Ireland would have beaten that Spain side over 90 minutes and then been a sporting chance to defeat South Korea. Reaching a WC semi would have represented a powerful foundation on which to build something we’d likely be benefiting from now. Instead we have the debacle that was Saipan, a massive smear and a classic case of shooting one’s self in both feet. The FAI’s appalling lack of professionalism coupled with Keane’s feral arrogance was and remains a national embarrassment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snapshot View Post
    The biggest loser was Irish soccer. With Keane leading the side and at full throttle, I believe Ireland would have beaten that Spain side over 90 minutes and then been a sporting chance to defeat South Korea. Reaching a WC semi would have represented a powerful foundation on which to build something we’d likely be benefiting from now. Instead we have the debacle that was Saipan, a massive smear and a classic case of shooting one’s self in both feet. The FAI’s appalling lack of professionalism coupled with Keane’s feral arrogance was and remains a national embarrassment.
    It certainly was a World Cup Finals of opportunity. Not that many very good teams and an opportunity that is unlikely to fall to a Country like Ireland very often.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snapshot View Post
    The biggest loser was Irish soccer. With Keane leading the side and at full throttle, I believe Ireland would have beaten that Spain side over 90 minutes and then been a sporting chance to defeat South Korea. Reaching a WC semi would have represented a powerful foundation on which to build something we’d likely be benefiting from now. Instead we have the debacle that was Saipan, a massive smear and a classic case of shooting one’s self in both feet. The FAI’s appalling lack of professionalism coupled with Keane’s feral arrogance was and remains a national embarrassment.
    Yeah the team did great without him but he was absolutely sensational in qualifying and I agree we would have gotten past Spain with him at the helm. He was playing like a man possessed and would have dominated that spanish midfield which is where his feral arrogance was an asset. It got the best of him off the field but that's where I think he was badly managed. Sadly we will never really know. Even if it's just football and all that.

    At least it started somewhat of a process that eventually caused some change at the FAI. Although I'm far from convinced they are approaching anything close to competency.

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    No question the squad upped their game after he left. Particularly Holland and Kinsella in midfield. So I'm not sure we would have done that much better or maybe any better if he had stayed - it might even have done more harm than good in terms of the atmosphere in the camp.

    Maybe we'd have gotten past Spain (no way would we have gotten past Korea, the refs were giving them everything that tournament to get them to the last four), but at the same maybe it would have all come apart in the groups due to squad disharmony - I've seen that happen to better teams than that one at major finals in the past.

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    But did they up their game because he wasn't there or because we were at a finals? It's not as if he has a reputation as a bad captain. Bad manager maybe. Caustic teammate maybe. But anyone who played with him rates him as a captain. If he'd played I think he would have gotten us to even higher levels. But your point is completely fair and I can see the other side too. They certainly all did us proud. I thought I'd find it hard to enjoy after he left but it was a brilliant tournament in the end.

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    I was walking down O Connell street from the northside on my way to a pub shift when I saw the news on an Evening Herald board. Utter shock and disbelief. Can still remember it clear as day. What followed was several years of arguments and debate amongst my group of lads. I was 1000% against Roy. I couldn't comprehend how you'd walk out on your country on the eve of a World Cup. Still can't. By and large amongst my group the only ones supporting Roy were Man Utd fans.
    The dude abides....

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    Biased against YOUR club pineapple stu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ontheotherhand View Post
    But did they up their game because he wasn't there or because we were at a finals?
    It's the great question, and because it's impossible to answer really, I think it'll be debated for a while yet.

    I be in Eirambler's camp in thinking the team rallied around and collectively improved. That said, Holland and Kinsella were solid Premier League midfielders we'd kill for today.

    Spain battered us for the first half and had a couple of goals ruled out for offside. We were really living dangerously for a good while. But they weren't the side they went on to be; they were still flaky underachievers. It's so easy to imagine us getting that extra bit to edge past them - especially in extra time when they were down to ten, even though we were well on top by that stage anyway - and a quarterfinal against South Korea makes it so easy to imagine a semifinal spot against a side we'd already drawn against.

    But the Holland win in qualifying strongly suggested Keane and McCarthy weren't seeing eye to eye, and you let that fester for a three-week World Cup camp (much longer than a qualification call-up) and you could see the strain taking away from the squad too.

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