Martin O'Neill is a horribly sarcastic man. His default position whenever he's forced to sit down in front of the media is one of abject annoyance. He deals with the questions by putting on a mask of irony. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Take his ugly WAG joke from last week.
To those of us who know the act, it was just another example of sardonic Martin O'Neill. You ask a stupid question, you get a stupid answer followed by a wry smile that suggests he's about to send you home with a report for your mammy telling her that she raised an idiot. It's an act that he sometimes plays better than others. But it's an easy story to go to town on when he misses the mark. Sarcasm is hard to hear when you're reading and O'Neill was roundly criticised, rightly so in this instance considering how wide of the humour mark he was.
Similarly, some could have found reason to be less than pleased with his take on Jack Byrne's confidence levels during his first couple of training sessions with the senior setup. The 19 year old was fairly confident that he could add something to O'Neill's squad saying 'I’m more of a technical footballer'.
That quote was put to O'Neill and he responded by claiming that it might be about time that Byrne was taken down a peg or two.
I don’t know yet, I’d need to see a wee bit more about him. He might be dumped on his backside tomorrow by a couple of the senior players, but good luck to him.
Once I let the senior players know that he’s been 'onlining'...I’ll have a wee word with Glenn Whelan about that. So if you see him being carted off tomorrow, you know that the boys have read the online stuff.
All in jest of course but it's quite possible that you could read that as an example of everything that's wrong with Irish football. Someone with a bit of swagger comes along and the first thing that needs to be done is to bring him back to reality. That may be the public persona that O'Neill wants to portray but the reality of the situation is quite different.
Byrne has been speaking to Cambuur's official website this week and the reality of the guidance that he received from O'Neill and Roy Keane was rather different.
They gave me a few tips and set me at ease. Dare to shoot and play your own game, for example. And Keane told me that my choice to move Cambuur was the right one. By stepping out of your comfort zone, it will make you a better player.
There's no doubt that O'Neill appreciates the kind of player that he has on his hands going forward. He may not be willing to increase the hype around the young Dubliner just yet, but that doesn't mean that Byrne himself is not going to try and do that. It may be very unlikely at this stage but a place in the final Euro 2016 squad is not being forgotten about just yet.
I felt in training that I could handle the level. On the other hand, I'm only 19 and have those guys qualified, but I keep fighting. My performances at Cambuur are not going unnoticed in any case.
It may be too soon for Byrne this time around but if he keeps playing his own game as O'Neill advised, it's not going to be too long before we see him make his senior Ireland debut.