Many feared the worst when Roy Keane took the job as Martin O'Neill's assistant. How could the ghosts of Saipan be exorcised and a happy marriage between Keane and the FAI brass in Abbotstown be arranged? Keane's time as Ireland assistant hasn't been without incident, but as we gear up for Euro 2016, it's worth taking a step back and marveling in the fact that twelve years after Saipan, and four years after Keane was critical of Ireland fans after the loss to Spain at the Euros, we are heading into a major tournament with Roy Keane as our assistant manager.
Here's a sign of how much the world has changed since Saipan: Roy Keane was speaking at a business seminar in Dublin Wednesday and he was actually crediting the FAI for the role in sewing the seeds for Ireland's success in Euro 2016 qualifying. He said things have changed since Saipan.
"To be fair, after Saipan a lot of things did change and you have to give the FAI credit for that.
"They said that they had wanted to speak out about facilities and so on but didn't feel they could. And now they can see why it was important that I spoke out when I did.
"I've never looked for perfection, only progress, and when me and Martin came in, what I found was that things were a lot better for the players in terms of travel arrangements and hotels.
"That doesn't guarantee you success but it gives you a better chance and a factor in kicking on from that is Martin's excellent man-management. He's fantastic, very experienced, and we have a good group and have had a little luck.
"That has built momentum and got confidence back in the group, which is massive in sport.
Keane is, of course, in negotiations for a new contract, but interesting all the same to see him praising the people who arrange the hotel and transport for their work in getting Ireland to the Euros.