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Mick McCarthy opens up on ‘s***e’ relationship with Republic of Ireland assistant manager roy Keane

Mick McCarthy has opened up about his rocky relationship with Roy Keane and has slammed the Republic of Ireland assistant manger for overshadowing gaffer, Michael O’neill.

When McCarthy himself was Ireland manager, he infamously sent Keane home from international duty ahead of the World Cup after the two had a scathing row in Saipan which resulted in Keane unleashing a 10 minute tirade at his boss.

McCarthy has now revealed that the two of them never had a good relationship, long before tensions finally boiled during the preparations for the 2002 World cup.

McCarthy gives his side to the Saipan incident when he sent Keane home from the World Cup

The former manager said his relationship with Keane was ‘pretty s***e’ from the start and spoke of another argument the two had while Mick was still playing: ‘I had a run in with him on the bus coming back from the USA tour. All the lads had been out, not just Roy. We were all waiting for them to come back, they’d only had a beer and were late getting on the bus.

‘I’d had to go and fetch Stan’s passport, I packed his bag and put it on. They all come on and I’m having a dig at them. I’m the captain, I’m the manager of Millwall at the time, so I’m saying ‘the bus is going, we need to go, we’ve a plane to catch’.

Then, of course, yours truly gives me a mouthful, so I’ve gone to have a dig at him back. And we had to be split up. I was never intimidated by him. But that was it.’ 

In Saipan, Keane had been furious that the bootcamp hadn’t resulted in much practise for the squad before they flew out to Japan, leaking his frustrations to the Irish press.

McCarthy conceded those claims but says there was a method to his madness: ‘The pitches [in Saipan] weren’t great. It was horrible. The surface was crap, the kit didn’t turn up. 

That was it. I took them to Saipan for a holiday. Seriously. We went there for four days, and I let them off on the p*ss for two nights. If I didn’t let them go on the p*ss there, they would’ve done it in Japan. So I let them have a blowout, before we go, then we’re down to the serious business.

‘We were going to Isamu, and I’d been there and inspected that, they were five star facilities. So all we had to do for four days was go and have a little kickabout on the sh***y pitch, and then we’d go to Japan to prepare.’ 

Mick McCarthy was speaking exclusively at Paddy Power at their Museum of Mischief, celebrating the brand’s 30th birthday. To read more, visit