Mick McCarthy’s Account of the Saipan Incident – Part 2
Mick McCarthy’s Version of Saipan Incident 1
This Account is taken from Mick McCarthy’s World Cup Diary – Chapter 7
Thursday 23 May 2003: Mick McCarthy had heard a number of rumours about what was going to appear in the Roy Keane interview with Tom Humphries that was due for publication in the Irish Times that day. McCarthy was in a awkward situation at the press conference that day. He found himself trying to defend allegations that Keane was supposed to have made in a yet to be published newspaper interview.
Philip Quinn of the Irish Independent provided McCarthy with a faxed copy of the Roy Keane interview. McCarthy said the comments made by Keane made his blood boil. He felt that the criticisms levelled by Keane at McCarthy, the staff, the players, and the FAI were excessive an unacceptable. “Players and staff are beginning to pick up on the gist of the article and shock is spreading through the group like a cancer. As the man in charge, I have to address this situation.”[Page 174].
Meltdown in Saipan
Because Keane’s criticisms applied right across the entire Irish squad and staff McCarthy determined that he should convene a group meeting to address the issues raised by Roy Keane. McCarthy felt that he needed to clear the air for everyone involved. McCarthy came into the squad’s private dining room at 7:30pm. He said that he did not discuss the purpose of the meeting or the Irish Times interview with any of the players in advance of the meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting McCarthy ran through some routine logistical issues. He then turned to Roy Keane, as captain of the team, to air any grievances that he has on behalf of the players. McCarthy said he wanted to deal with any issues in the privacy of the squad meeting rather than through the media. McCarthy said that Keane was “fuming” and demanded to know what right had McCarthy got to call a public meeting about him. The Irish manager pointed out that he had an Irish Times article that was a very public criticism of him (McCarthy) and the squad. He began to read some of the comments made by Keane in the interview.
Roy Keane became so enraged that he launched into a “wild rant”. Keane said that he disliked playing for McCarthy and he deliberately missed playing friendlies for that reason. He admitted that he join the Irish squad late to avoid being around the manager. “Saipan had been a cock-up from start to finish.” Keane said he wanted to play for Ireland but not for McCarthy. When asked why he pulled out of the away match against Iran on the Sunday morning “…just hours after telling me that that he was going” Keane became even more agitated. Keane shouted something about “your deal with the gaffer”. McCarthy asked Keane did he not say that he was going to Iran on the Saturday. Keane ignored the question again referring the “deal with the gaffer”.[Page 176].
“He is fuming now and the room is stunned…for about eight minutes I am every expletive imaginable from c to w. I was a crap player. I am a crap manager. I am a crap coach…..I am an effing c*** and an effing w***er. He has nor respect for me at all, as a manager or as a player.”
“I have never seen any human being act like this before…He is delirious. He continues the abuse, dragging up an argument we had in Boston back in 1992. Eventually Roy starts to repeat one question. ‘you want me to piss off, don’t you?’ …I’ve had enough. He has crossed the line…I tell him to go. He tells me to stick the World Cup up my f***ing arse. With that, he is up and gone, out the door, and out of the World Cup.”[Page 176-177].
With Keane preparing to leave Saipan and Ireland’s best player exiting from the 2002 World Cup finals the Irish soccer manager appealed to the rest of the players and his staff for unity. “One of the players says: ‘Mick McCarthy well done.’ The room erupts with a round of applause.”[Page 177]. Packie Bonner and “Taff” – Ian Evans also addressed the players.
Immediately after the meeting McCarthy called a press conference in the hotel to “…deliver the news myself, before the grapevine creeps in again.” While he was preparing for the meeting with the press three senior players, Niall Quinn, Stephen Staunton and Alan Kelly, offer to flank McCarthy at the conference. “They heard what Keane said…and they are as disgusted as I am.”[Page 178].
After the press conference McCarthy rang Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson, as a matter of courtesy and left a message for him to “…let him know what had happened.”[Page 178].
McCarthy said he retired to his room with the events of the evening going around in his mind and with many unanswered and perhaps unanswerable questions.
NOTE: Unless stated otherwise all quotations are from:
Niall Quinn Version of Saipan Incident
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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