Packie Bonner has elaborated on the events that led to with Roy Keane's departure from Saipan - including how a wind-up from Shay Given might not have helped!
Bonner was speaking at OTB Sports' Cadbury FC remote roadshow, alongside Shay Given, and spoke of an incident prior to the World Cup which he 'believes' prompted the whole affair.
"I've got to blame Shay for Roy," says Bonner, complete with wry smile.
"I'm going to blame everything on Shay, because when we were heading out to Saipan, we were in Amsterdam Airport. You remember that skit on Today FM [Roy Radio] and Shay had it on his laptop.
"I remember him playing it and all the boys gathering around him and having real fun listening to Roy's voice. Roy was sitting up about 20 yard away reading his book and you could see the steam coming out of his ears!"
Given had his own recollection of events...
"It was Gift Grub [...] it was Roy Keane not getting paid, and he was on the phone to Alex Ferguson. The Scottish accent and the Cork accent, they were having a go at each other - it had the guys in stitches!
"Roy was death-staring over thinking: 'Why are they even laughing?!'
"To be fair to Roy, he listened to it after that. He was laughing at himself and the guys taking the mickey."
Bonner expanded on an argument between Keane and the goalkeeping staff that was apparently one of the flare-ups at the camp, but the Donegal man shone some light on the incident.
"Ian Evans was going to do this shooting exercise, and he wanted to get into quickly, so I bought [the 'keepers] down a bit earlier. I worked them hard as I normally did, and then the bus came with the players and Ian Evans went into his shooting exercise.
"Alan Kelly came to me and said 'Listen, we're absolutely done in here, can we step out of the 5-a-side?' - Mick always had a 5-a-side. That was the moment that Roy lost it a little bit, because he wanted the goalkeepers to play in the 5-a-side."
After attempting to calm Keane, Bonner went down to have a drink of water at the hydration tent.
"That is when Roy walked down to me, and he started giving out to me and I started saying 'Roy, forget it, forget it.'"
It was the goalkeepers' union in full force, but Bonner was quick to throw Kelly under the bus straight after Given.
"I didn't see the next part of it, where apparently Alan Kelly had another go at him. You don't mess with goalkeepers. We're all in this together!
"Alan had a few words with him, and it was only when Mick was having his press conference that [Fraser Robertson of Sky Sports] asked our press officer. "Was there a bit of a set-to down there?'
"Instead of saying no, he said "Oh Jesus, yeah - they were at it, full tilt!'"
Top media management...
"It was only about eight hours later that I picked up this big news story had broken over in Ireland, and Eamon Dunphy was saying I should be coming home instead of Roy!"
Bonner sat down for breakfast the next morning with the only two other people there - Roy Keane and Alan Kelly.
"I sat down with Roy and said 'My god, have you seen what's going on back in Ireland? Me and you are supposed to have had this fight.
"Roy said 'Don't mind the press, you know what they're like' and we had breakfast together - so that's the real story behind it!"
As for the impact of Saipan, Given had some interesting thoughts from the starting goalkeeper's standpoint.
"It galvanised us a little bit as a team. This was my first World Cup, and when I played for Ireland I was a fan, still.
"Nothing was going to take away from me playing for Ireland at a World Cup - it was dream come true stuff. Yes, it overshadowed the first game a bit, but just to stand there for the national anthem was amazing."
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