Only a Game? - Keane will not let anyone get carried away

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane during a press conference at the Grand Hotel in Malahide, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 7, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane during a press conference at the Grand Hotel in Malahide, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 7, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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Let’s not get carried away. A 3-0 win over Latvia is a decent result, but keep it in perspective.

It wasn’t so long ago that a certain Steve Staunton led the Republic of Ireland out at Lansdowne Road for his first game in charge.

Sweden were the opponents back then and the self-proclaimed ‘Gaffer’ watched on as his side romped to a 3-0 win.

Expectation and dreams of qualifying for a World Cup were in the air that night but any Ireland fan who knows anything about anything will tell you what happened next was nothing short of an absolute disaster.

Now, don’t get me wrong, do I think the team will suffer the same fate under new manager Martin O’Neill and his assistant Roy Keane? Absolutely not. But, whilst it’s good to get off to a winning start let’s remember the important thing is that we give qualification for the European Championships in France in 2016 a really good go.

Was it a figment of my imagination or did Roy Keane look like he was actually enjoying himself on Friday night? He even offered support to the players on the pitch - he actually looked, dare I say it, emotional.

I never thought the FAI could go one better than when they managed to get Giovanni Trapattoni to manage Ireland all those years ago but the appointment of O’Neill and Keane has the potential to supersede the feats accomplished by Trap.

If there’s one argument that will never stand up in my book it’s that Roy Keane doesn’t care about Ireland.

It’s utter nonsense.

Keane is as passionate about the Republic of Ireland as anyone I have ever known. Just because you’re critical of something doesn’t mean you don’t care.

Sometimes when everyone else is getting carried away with sentiment it’s refreshing to have someone like Roy Keane there to tell everyone to catch themselves on.

I was in the stands singing the ‘Fields of Athenry’ with thousands of other Irish fans when we lost 4-0 to Spain in Gdansk last summer.

We were played off the pitch but the fans sang for almost half an hour. We were the talk of the tournament but Keane came out and provided perspective.

Keane essentially said that it was nothing but self-deception to talk about how good the Ireland fans were and I for one agreed with him.

If all a team have to show from their sojourn to the European Championships are stories of how good their fans were, then it hasn’t been a good campaign. That’s what Roy was saying.

I hope Roy applies the same logic when dealing with Friday’s 3-0 win over Latvia.

Obviously every win is to be welcomed and I am sure he is delighted to be off to a winning start but he will have no trouble in providing the perspective and sobering attitude that such a situation requires.

James McClean

Wasn’t it great to see a young lad from Creggan get the man-of-the-match award on Friday?

James McClean, who was in the news last week regarding the wearing of poppies on Remembrance Weekend, seems to perform brilliantly under adversity.

I wonder what the British Government would say to holding a remembrance service every time Ireland play a game - that way McClean would be unstoppable.