By Sean Creedon
Roy Keane is not a player noted for giving major interviews to journalists, but in recent months, as he seeks to explain his reasons for wanting to get away from Manchester United, the Corkman has been talking. First to the Sunday Times respected writer Hugh McIlvanney and last Sunday to Paul Kimmage of the Sunday Independent.
Keane says that United will have to change their wage structure if they are to continue being a successful club.
"Nobody wants United to wait another 30 years to win the European Cup," he said. "They could have brought in good players over the years, like Ronaldo, Desailly and Batistuta, but they wouldn’t come because of the wage structure. As much as I love the club, I am not going to sell myself short. OK, it’s a team game, but it didn’t feel that way when I was out with my cruciate injury last year. At the end of the day you are on your own.”
Keane admits that his family are very happy living on the outskirts of Manchester, where they have recently moved into a new house.
"From Jan. 1 next year, I am free to speak to other clubs," Keane said. "United Chairman Martin Edwards has been saying that I wouldn’t, but I don’t know where he got that from. When I came to Old Trafford seven years ago their attitude was, `We’re Manchester United, the biggest club in the world,’ and they have always used that as a tool to bargain with.
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"Three years later, it was the same. I gave up a lot of money when I joined and gave up a lot of money three years later. This year my attitude has changed.”
Clearly the influential Corkman, who, thankfully, came through Saturday’s League game against Leicester free of injury, now realizes just how much he is worth. And although it will be a wrench to move his wife and three children from Manchester to a club in Italy or Spain, he is going to do it.
Meanwhile Keane’s United colleague Denis Irwin is out of Saturday’s
playoff against Turkey. Irwin didn’t play against Leicester last Saturday, but he should be fit for the second leg in Bursa on Nov. 17. Mark Kennedy, who pulled a hamstring playing for Manchester City against QPR on Saturday, is also out of the Irish squad.
It looks like this season’s Church and General National Football League is going to be taken seriously by several counties wishing to build a team for the 2000 championship. Last year, we saw some very poor games in the final stages of the League, with the final played before a small attendance at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. That will not happen again, partly for commercial reasons. Pairc Ui Chaoimh does not have any area for corporate entertainment and the sponsors were not happy that the final was switched from Croke Park.
So now we have 70-minute games, the same as the championship, and teams are allowed use five substitutes. Also this year only counties from Divs. 1A and 1B can win the League title. The teams from Divs. 2A and 2B will playoff in a curtain raiser to the final at Croke Park next May. The big game on Sunday in the second round of games is the meeting of Kerry and Tyrone in Div. 1A. Kerry were very impressive as they got revenge against Cork last time out, while Tyrone also impressed against Dublin. All-Ireland champions Meath, who introduced a few new players in their first round win over Clare, will pay a rare trip to Sligo.
Irish crack top 40
A timely boost for the Republic of Ireland as they prepare for the crunch play-off against Turkey at Lansdowne Road on Saturday. The Boys in Green are back in the FIFA Top 40 at No. 35, having started the year in 56th place. Turkey are rated 37th, having started the year in 57th place. These rating don’t mean a whole lot and are based on results in the recent Euro 2000 qualifiers. Managerless Northern Ireland share 78th place with Cuba.
No doubt there will be huge interest also in the playoff between Scotland and England, the first leg of which is at Hampden Park on Saturday. For those who wish to tune in, the game is live on SKy Sports 2 and the full game will also be shown on BBC immediately after the whistle goes. Saturday promises to be a big day for the armchair fans.
O’Sullivan for Ireland
Eddie O’Sullivan, currently coach of the United States rugby team, is to take up a coaching job with the Irish Rugby Football Union. O’Sullivan takes over from Philip Danaher, who had responsibility for coaching the Irish back division. But his role will be wider than Danaher’s as he will be available to coach and advise at every level of the game.
And despite a woeful World Cup performance, national team coach Warren Gatland and Manager Donal Linehan are to stay on for the Six Nations competition which gets under way in January.
All Ireland draw
The draw for next year’s All-Ireland hurling and football championships will be made live on RTE on Sunday.
The draw had to be postponed two weeks ago when Central Council refused to rubber stamp proposals by the Provincial Councils in Munster and Leinster to introduce a "losers section" into their championships.
A Meath footballer is certain to win the GAA Writers’ Player of the Year this year, as all three players nominated come from the All-Ireland winners. John McDermott, who captained Ireland against Australia last month, must be the favorite and the other two Royal nominees are Tevor Giles and Ollie Murphy. Meath also have a nomination in the young player of the year category in Nigel Nestor. The other nominees are Dessie Dolan of Westmeath and Cork captain Philip Clifford.
Cork’s Brian Corcoran will probably be favorite to take the hurling award. The other nominees are Kilkenny’s D.J. Carey and Brian Whelahan of Offaly. The Young Player nominees in hurling are Wayne Sherlock and Diarmuid O’Sullivan (Cork) and Kilkenny’s new star Henry Shefflin.
O’Rourke in court
Former Irish swimming coach Derry O’Rourke is due in Kilmainham Court in Dublin tomorrow to face 59 new charges of indecent assault of young swimmers between 1970 and 1992. The 52-year-old O’Rourke was jailed for 12 years last January after he pleaded guilty to 29 sample charges of sexual abuse against 11 swimmers.