May 25, 2024

Eamon Dunphy & Roy Keane

“Roy Keane has found a kindred spirit in Eamon Dunphy, essential for any good partnership on a book. Both have a rage, fuelled in the past by alcohol as petrol on an already burning fire, which has led on occasions to bad decisions. Both are honest, outspoken men but it is an honesty born not of clarity, rather distorting resentment”
Ian Ridley – The Observer, Sunday 25 August 2002 01.08 BST

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Eamon Dunphy is an Irish TV soccer pundit, radio broadcaster, newspaper columnist, and author. He has also done other TV work including a short-lived chat show on TV3 on which he interviewed Roy Keane. Eamon Dunphy has been one of the staunchest supporters of Roy Keane since the Saipan incident.

In his pronouncements and interventions on the Saipan affair in general, and on the topic of Roy Keane in particular, Eamon Dunphy has hindered rational debate on the issue. His multi-media self-serving obsequious overtures to Keane have disrupted any serious attempts to draw balanced conclusions on Saipan and Keane.

Since that fateful Summer in 2002 Dunphy has peddled his own distorted view of Keane’s involvement in the Saipan incident through his radio show, his newspaper columns, his regular appearances on RTE television, his TV3 chat show, and of course his ghost-writing of Roy Keane’s autobiography. This multimedia venting of his unbalanced views and opinion has retarded a wider and more rational debate on Saipan and the issues that led to Keane’s premature exit from Ireland’s 2002 World Cup squad.

Dunphy has used every opportunity to overstate the case for Roy Keane, and to undermine Mick McCarthy. Like a petulant child he becomes incensed at the merest hint of criticism of Keane. For a journalist who has often been highly critical of the lack of objectivity by other members of the media his pro-Keane commentary has been astonishingly subjective in tone and content.

His ability to choose to overlook obvious facts in favour of his own biased hyperbole is staggering. But then again this is the man who refused to admit that Michel Platini was a great footballer – the best that he could concede was that the French legend was a ‘good player’. He is also the soccer pundit (n. expert who speaks publicly on a subject.) that, for almost six years, couldn’t bring himself to concede that Cristiano Ronaldo was an exceptional football talent.

Eamon Dunphy’s distorted contributions to the public discourse on Saipan have their origins in the days when Jack Charlton was manager of the Republic of Ireland soccer team. Refusing to celebrate with the rest of the Irish nation Dunphy chose the contrarian route and took every opportunity to criticise Charlton’s direct style of play. He once famously threw his pen across the RTE TV studio in apparent exasperation following a sterile draw between the Irish and Egypt during the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy. I say ‘apparently’ because with Dunphy it can be difficult to know if he is making a serious point or just giving his controversial persona one of its’ regular transfusions. Eamon Dunphy has made a very good living in Ireland out of being contentious.

While Mick McCarthy had been capped by Eoin Hand it was during Charlton’s stewardship that he nailed down his place in the centre of the Irish defence. The fact that this was at the expense of the more elegant and stylish David O’Leary did not go down at all well with Dunphy. When McCarthy was made the Irish captain, and went on to win a total of 57 international caps, he became Charlton’s on-field proxy in Dunphy’s eyes.

When Mick McCarthy became the Irish soccer manager in 1996 this played into Dunphy’s controversial barrow again. He saw it as a continuation of the Charlton dynasty. Surprisingly, to most observers, McCarthy introduced a more cultured style of play to the Republic of Ireland team thus depriving Dunphy of the opportunity to continue with his onslaught against the Irish set up.

Unfortunately for McCarthy he inherited an old and tired team that required rebuilding. In that process results did not go in his favour. Very quickly Dunphy embarked upon a long and sustained period of criticism of McCarthy. This was despite the fact that, under Mick McCarthy, Ireland very narrowly missed out on qualification for the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 finals before becoming only the second Irish soccer manager to lead Ireland to the finals of a major soccer championship – the 2002 World Cup.

When the news of the Saipan affair broke Eamon Dunphy leapt on the bandwagon making pronouncements without the the benefit of the full knowledge of the facts. For someone that proudly and regularly boasts that his job as a journalist and a soccer pundit is to cut through the bulls**t and provide objective analysis he made no effort to rein in his own personal partisan position. He blatantly attempted to rally public support for Roy Keane while publicly scourging the management abilities of Mick McCarthy.

It was an outrageous and mercenary attempt to increase demand for the Keane’s forthcoming autobiography which he was in the process of writing. Dunphy went to the extreme of wearing the colours of of Ireland’s first 2002 World Cup opponents, Cameroon, when he appeared as a studio panellist for RTE’s coverage of the match.

He drew the wrath of many viewers when he declared that he hoped the Africans would beat the Irish. More than 2,000 viewers (a record) called the TV station to complain about him. His support for Keane seems to have blinded him to the fact that there were 22 other Irish footballers out in the Far East doing their best to make the Irish fans proud.

The YouTube clip below of Dunphy’s performance on RTE television on the occasion of Roy Keane’s exit from Manchester United is a perfect example of the objectivity that he has consistently brought to the Saipan / Roy Keane public discourse.

His invective reaches startling proportions when he mindlessly attacks Niall Quinn and calls him a “creep”. He follows this by branding a fellow journalist a “gutter journalist” and then unbelievably climbs into the gutter himself as he claims that this journalistic colleague “…ran away and left his wife for a young one.” It really has to be viewed to be believed.

One wonders what Dunphy made of Roy Keane’s remark in an interview with Pat Kenny on the Late Late Show in May 2009 when Keane stated quite categorically and unequivocally that Eamon Dunphy was no friend of his. “Eamon was never a friend of mine.”


In an TV3 interview with journalist Ursula Halligan, broadcast on 14 January 2010, Eamon Dunphy admitted that his relationship with Roy Keane was only ever a professional one and that they were never friends. In a personal and apparently frank interview Dunphy claimed that he had always tried to be objective in his analysis and commentary on Roy Keane. Clearly this doesn’t square with his performance in the YouTube video above but his demeanour during the TV3 interview certainly suggests that Dunphy is sincere – if somewhat deluded – when he claims objectivity in his coverage of Keane over the years. Which neatly brings us back to the insightful comments by Ian Ridley quoted at the top of the page.

Thanks are due to Malachy and the Irish Times for permission to reproduce the following views of Eamon Dunphy in May 2012, ten years on from the Saipan Incident.

I felt I knew Keane better than other people. John [Giles] and Liam [Brady] would have had certain views on him. John is fascinated with him still, Liam was just scathing. I can’t fathom why. None of the three of us are particularly nationalist but John and Liam couldn’t get past this thing of his not being prepared to wear the jersey.

Michael Kennedy got me to ring him when he was back in Manchester. He asked what should he do and I told him to do the Tommie Gorman interview because television has no filter and he’d get his side of the story out.

We had another conversation afterwards when he was thinking of going back and he asked what I thought. I said: ‘Do what you believe in. Don’t let your heart rule your head. If you’re going to get on another long-haul flight, go all the way back and mess up your hip again, then do it because you think it’s right for you and your family. Forget the nation and all that stuff – what’s done is done.’

I basically decided to have fun with it all. I was kind of immune to being disliked by people insofar as any human being can be.

So I said to Jane, ‘Wait til you see what I’m going to wear tomorrow’. And I dug out a green shirt – which I still have – and a red tie. Cameroon colours. I wanted to get away from all this seriousness. There were people dying in hospital and this was nothing compared to that.

So I arrived into RTÉ and there was absolute consternation. Nobody wanted me to wear it, none of them thought it was a good idea. I just did it. I’m not crazy, I’m just going to do what I want to do. It’s supposed to be fun, it’s not life or death.

Roy Keane Playing Record

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Saipan Table of Contents Roy Keane & Eamon Dunphy
Saipan Introduction Roy Keane & Cork
Methodology Keane’s Aversion to Being Away From Home
Saipan Conclusions Roy Keane’s Relationship with Ireland
Roy Keane – Mick McCarthy Relationship Roy Keane – Zenith Data Systems Cup
Roy Keane Version of Saipan Incident Roy Keane – Jack Charlton Relationship
Mick McCarthy Version of Saipan Incident 1 Roy Keane’s Flawed Character
Mick McCarthy Version of Saipan Incident 2 Roy Keane’s Good Character
Niall Quinn Version of Saipan Incident Roy Keane – Footballer
Jason McAteer Version of Saipan Incident Roy Keane – Team Captain
Matt Holland Version of Saipan Incident Roy Keane – Family Man
Roy Keane & Saipan – The Backdrop Roy Keane & Faking Injury
Roy Keane & Saipan – The Issues Roy Keane – Bad Boy
Keane / McCarthy Boston Row 1992 Roy Keane – Career Lows
Keane Misses Iran Playoff Game Roy Keane – Red Cards etc
Keane Misses Niall Quinn Testimonial Roy Keane – Cruciate Injury
Countdown to Saipan Incident Roy Keane & Alf-Inge Haaland
Roy Keane Saipan Tirade at Mick McCarthy Roy Keane & Gareth Southgate Red Card
Roy Keane / Tom Humphries Saipan Interview 1 Roy Keane & Alan Shearer Red Card
Keane / Humphries Saipan Interview 2 Roy Keane / Alex Ferguson Relationship 1
Roy Keane / Irish Times Saipan Interview 3 Roy Keane & Sir Alex Ferguson 2
Roy Keane / Paul Kimmage Saipan Interview 1 Roy Keane & Charity
Keane / Kimmage Saipan Interview 2 Roy Keane & Autobiography Contradictions 1
Roy Keane / Sunday Independent Saipan Interview 3 Roy Keane & Contradictions 2
Roy Keane / Tommie Gorman Interview 1 Roy Keane – Integrity
Roy Keane / Tommy Gorman Interview 2 Roy Keane – International Matches
Roy Keane / RTE Interview 3 Roy Keane – Football Record
FAI Involvement in Saipan Affair Roy Keane & Sandwiches
Saipan Reaction of Irish Players Roy Keane – Walker
Mick McCarthy – ‘crap player, crap manager’ Saipan – Pacific Island
Roy Keane / Mick McCarthy Playing Record I Keano – The Musical
Colin Healy – Forgotten Man of Saipan Roy Keane – Football Manager
Saipan Ten Years Later Roy Keane’s Dog Triggs
Roy Keane’s Autobiography Saipan Bibiliography


Roy Keane – View Seven Years After Saipan
Football Quotes about Saipan


Triggs – The Autobiography of Roy Keane’s Dog
Ireland at 2002 World Cup Finals – Irish 2002 World Cup Squad – Irish Group Matches
Ireland V Cameroon – Ireland V Germany – Ireland V Saudi Arabia – Ireland V Spain