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Niall Quinn's Testimonial Football Match
Niall Quinn had scheduled his testimonial match at Sunderland for the end of the 2001/2002 season. The Republic of Ireland would provide the opposition as Irish soccer manager Mick McCarthy had agreed to incorporate the match into his World Cup finals preparation. In a hugely generous gesture Quinn had announced that he would divide the financial proceeds of the testimonial between two hospitals - the Royal Infirmary in Sunderland and Our Lady's for Sick Children in Crumlin in Dublin.
Roy Keane is a No-Show
In his book Mick McCarthy said that he had been informed on 12 May 2002 by the Manchester United doctor that Roy Keane would need to travel to France for treatment on an injury and would not make the match.
"If I release the news, Roy's absence will become a bigger story than the testimonial. Niall is still trying to sell tickets in his efforts to make a million pounds for charity and I am not going to do anything to jeopardise that...I am not going to do anything that will jeopardise ticket sales or my relationship with Roy or Manchester United...Anyway, the United doctor said they'd appreciate it if I keep quiet on the nature of the injury."[Mick McCarthy: Ireland's World Cup 2002 - Page 134].
In his autobiography Roy Keane said that, "I told Niall I was struggling to play. And the previous Friday I informed Mick Byrne. No problem, Quinny said."[Page 255]. Keane seems to be suggesting that the Irish manager might have known a couple of days earlier than Mick McCarthy says in the account related above. The significance of the timing of when McCarthy knew that Roy Keane was a no-show is probably irrelevant.
Keane admits that he did refuse to sign a message for the programme because it would have been drafted by journalist Cathal Dervan. "Cathal Dervan was McCarthy's mate, the guy who urged the Lansdowne Road crowd to boo me because I didn't care about Ireland. I declined Niall's request."[Page 255].
The Media Make an Issue of Roy Keane's Absence
In the press conference following Quinn's testimonial at the Stadium of Light Mick McCarthy was questioned about the absence of the Irish soccer captain. "I explain, almost till I am blue in the face, that I have known about Roy's non-show since Sunday and have no problem with him at all...How can it be a snub when I knew about it?"[Mick McCarthy: Ireland's World Cup 2002 - Page 137].
On the plane from Manchester to Dublin for the last Republic of Ireland warm up match against Nigeria before the trip to Saipan, Keane read some Irish newspapers. Headlines suggest that Keane had snubbed the Niall Quinn testimonial match that was in aid of children's charities. This infuriated the Irish captain, "Maybe Keane keeps his contributions to charities - including sick kids - private."[Page 255].
In his Saipan interview with Tom Humphries Keane said, in relation to the press coverage, "My conscience is clear. Yeah, I wasn't happy, but I forgot about that." Except that he didn't and it clearly bothered him enough to include references to it in his autobiography later that year. It is difficult to understand why Keane should feel so aggrieved by the press coverage. He created a rod for his own back and presented it to the press for them to use. The facts of that matter are:
1) Keane finished the season playing for United without any report of injury in his last match.
2) Keane had a history of no-shows for non-competitive matches for the Republic of Ireland. He played in just seven matches of the friendly matches played while Mick McCarthy was the Irish soccer manager.
3) The reason given for his non-appearance was for treatment for an unspecified injury to either his knee or his hip, or both.
4) Keane refused Niall Quinn's request to put his name to a message for the match programme on the grounds that he didn't like the journalist that wrote it. Nor did he didn't contribute a message himself for inclusion.
5) According to his Saipan interview with Paul Kimmage, on the night of the Niall Quinn charity testimonial match at the Stadium of Light, Roy Keane was in Manchester at the cinema with his wife.
6) Keane played in the Republic of Ireland match against Nigeria just two days later without any obvious difficulty or any subsequent report of injury or discomfort.
While we must accept Keane's bona fides on the Niall Quinn testimonial issue it is easy to see why people have significant doubts.
For the Record
Date: 14 May 2002
NOTE: Unless stated otherwise all quotations are from:
Triggs - The Autobiography of Roy Keane's Dog
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