By Mark Jones
DUBLIN — Republic of Ireland captain Roy Keane has signaled that he will quit Manchester United next year if the top English club doesn’t come up with a salary deal that would earn the midfield star a reputed $60,000 a week.
Keane’s contract with United finishes at the end of next season, and with the club chairman, Martin Edwards, making bullish comments about being in no hurry to re-sign the Cobh-born international, the player could become a free agent under the so-called Bosman ruling.
Keane has previously been the target of Spanish, German and Italian clubs, with Barcelona heading the charge in 1996 when his contract was renegotiated. Clearly, he could find himself in a position to add to his already considerable earnings if one of the big European clubs came in with a bid.
"He would have to seriously consider a move away from Manchester," said Keane’s lawyer, Michael Kennedy. "He’s more settled in himself now, far more mature, and if he was to go to one of the continental clubs, he would be able for it."
However, some English soccer observers believe that Keane feels a strong loyalty to the Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson, who has helped to transform the Irishman into the best midfielder in the Premiership.
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McAteer on move?
Jason McAteer could be on the verge of a move from Liverpool to Blackburn Rovers. The Republic of Ireland international has been out in the cold at Liverpool since Frenchman Gerard Houllier took over as manager and Blackburn are believed to have offered in excess of $7 million for the versatile McAteer.
Meanwhile, two goals by Niall Quinn last weekend look to have secured Sunderland’s promotion to the English Premiership for next season. Quinn struck twice in the first half as Sunderland secured a valuable 2-1 triumph over Ipswich, which put them 10 points clear at the top of Div. 1.
Kerrigan in line for Cavan
Mattie Kerrigan has emerged as the favorite to take over as Cavan football manager following the controversial resignation of Liam Austin. Kerrigan is believed to be the preferred option of the Cavan County Board. However, he might not accept the post.
A former Meath player and later manager of both Westmeath and Leinster, Kerrigan could refuse the Cavan offer for personal reasons. Then county could turn to former stalwart Stephen King, who retired last season.
Even though he has no managerial experience, King could be the right sort of alternative to ease the divisions in the county that arose following the players’ vote of no confidence in Austin.
Former Dublin All-Ireland winner Barney Rock has also been mentioned in connection with the post, which is likely to be filled within the next week.
Cavan’s next National League game is against Longford on Feb. 14.
In what was almost certainly a forerunner to next summer’s Connacht football championship semifinal clash, Galway edged out Sligo by 0-8 to 0-7 in the Connacht Football League at Enniscrone.
Meanwhile, an experimental Dublin were too strong for Carlow in the O’Byrne Cup quarterfinal, running out easy winners by 2-10 to 1-2. Wicklow defeated Meath by 0-13 to 0-9 in the other quarterfinal that was played. With bad weather putting paid to several GAA matches, Cork had a facile 8-30 to 0-4 victory over Roscommon in the Oireachtas hurling championship.
Shannon crush Lansdowne
Shannon proved they won’t be easily sidetracked in their efforts to claim a remarkable fifth All-Ireland rugby league title when they crushed Div. 1 leaders Lansdowne by 35-0 at Clanwilliam.
Shannon’s biggest win of the season moves them up to joint second place in the table on six points, two behind Lansdowne and Garryowen. However, the champions have a game in hand.
Garryowen struggled to beat Terenure 20-6, while St. Mary’s moved back into contention with a 34-11 win over Blackrock. Unbeaten Ballymena’s match against bottom club Galwegians was postponed.
St. Patrick’s gain on Cork
St. Patrick’s Athletic closed the gap on national soccer league leaders Cork City to just a single point last weekend when they thrashed Sligo Rovers 4-1 at the Showgrounds. Cork, meanwhile, could only manage a 1-1 draw away to Finn Harps.