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terial so long as he gives his all in that green shirt."

Matt Holland scored a cracker in the 1-1 draw in Portugal.

The qualifier in Cyprus in March 2001 took secondary significance for McCarthy because his father Charlie was dying of cancer.

McCarthy decided to go home to Barnsley "to say my goodbyes".

"I just want to tell him I love him one last time, say see you, goodnight and God bless," McCarthy said in his World Cup diary.

Four days later, on Thursday March 22, he got the call that his father was dead.

"It is not unexpected but it is still a smack in the gob. Nothing can prepare you for the shock when it happens. I feel like crying all the

McCarthy's 50th game as manager saw a routine home win over Andorra. Then Portugal arrive in Dublin with captain Fernando Couto banned for nandrolone offences whilst at Lazio.

McCarthy joked to the press that he wasn't the one who had injected Couto with a banned substance and suddenly he was seen as 'public enemy number one'.

A handshake with his opposite number Antonia Oliveira revealed as much.

"He offers me the limpest bit of wet cod you have ever come across in your life. I laugh and he says I won't be laughing after the game."

After a 1-1 draw, Oliveira blanks the offer of a second handshake and McCarthy admits: "I lose it. I call him a horrible, obnoxious little ****."

A flare-up ensues before Eusebio drags McCarthy away: "He saves my bacon, pulling me away and on to the pitch. I will always be grateful to him for that," says McCarthy, who is then hugged by Figo: "a true Portuguese gentleman".

Ireland's penultimate match in the group at home to Holland proved through Gary Kelly's sending triumphed through by Jason McAteer.

moment. I tell anyone listen that this is the of them all. A famous earned by a very honest fellas."

finish behind Portugal on and in the play-off 2-1 on aggregate.

thus becomes only the manager to steer Ireland major football championship competition.

"I have done it now," says McCarthy. "I have followed Big Jack into the big time.

"I am not bothered who we play come the summer. There is not a team in this World Cup that scares me. My only hope is to get a glamour draw against Argentina, Brazil."

Germany, Cameroon and contract is agreed that will to the FAI until the Championships - for reaching the Finals. negotiations turned into a out and very public media, which was never at all," says McCar t hy.

is named - without and Steven Reid who behind in preference to and Lee Carsley - for South Korea.

what I expect from the says McCarthy. "We do everything we can to Cup. I am not saying we will give it our best nothing to fear." play Niall Quinn's testimonial Sunderland.

been everything a manager want from a player, everything father could want from son-in-law."

Kennedy has to pull out of the squad through injury.

"I love him like a son," says McCarthy, who has known the winger since he was 15. "There are tears as we accept the finality of it all."

Millwall's Reid gets the call and is only just caught in time before he heads for a holiday in Barbados. MCCARTHY FAST He managed Republic matches, 29, drawing and losing 20 What should have been a unifying celebration of Irish football was blighted by the infamous Saipan Incident that involved a major row between McCarthy and Irish captain Roy Keane, an experience McCarthy says he ''would not wish on anyone, friend or foe''.

Were the seeds really sown in Boston in the summer of 1992 when captain McCarthy rebuked a drunken youngster on his first tour? Keane said so, but he'd been a renegade for years, irksome to one and all of his teammates.

FACT the in 68 winning 19 Keane had failed to turn up for so many internationals, including McCarthy and Quinn's testimonials and the all-important play-off in Iran.

Keane had turned up late for the squad get-together in order to have treatment to a hamstring injury in France, and now his mood had darkened over missing kit, a bone hard training pitch and McCarthy inviting the press to a barbecue.

"I have been pilloried by the media over the last six years," says McCarthy.

"I have been humiliated, hammered and vilified in the past. My family have suffered as much as I have, more so on occasions. Some of the most critical attacks have come from men I am now inviting to sit down and dine with us.

"What is the alternative? Let wounds stagnate for years, isolate myself from the media and feed their hatred?" Keane's mood takes a turn for the worst when he argues with Ian 'Taff' Evans, Packie Bonner and Alan Kelly over the goalkeepers being excused from a training game.

"I am not bothered by the outburst.

It is a silly argument," says McCarthy.

Bonner dismisses the bust-up as "less trouble than he has getting his son to do his homework".

But later that evening Keane tells McCarthy he has had enough and wants to go home. "He wants out of the World Cup. He is about to quit the squad and international football."

"I am staggered," says McCarthy.

"I am hit for six, I am gobsmacked."

Keane has cited ''personal reasons'' and times it a day before the FIFA deadline so that McCarthy can call a replacement.

An argument ensues in Keane's room and after some to-ing and froing he is adamant he is going home. "I know this is a big story, the biggest story of the World Cup ever from an Irish perspective," says McCarthy, who says he has a clear conscience.

"Could I have handled it differently? Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing. Perhaps I should have told Roy to sleep on it."

Then a U-turn. Keane arrives at breakfast the following morning as if nothing has happened.

McCarthy and Keane agree to tell the press that he was back in the fold after feeling the affects of an old knee injury.

Colin Healy is told he is no longer on stand-by.

But then Keane slates the Irish preparations, the staff and the players in interviews given to the Irish Times and Irish Independent.

"Keano's remarks clearly undermine everything I have done since we qualified for the finals, he is casting a shadow over the entire World Cup. Shock is spreading through the group like a cancer."

At a hastily arranged team meeting Keane goes ballistic.

MCCARTHY FAST "He explodes," says McCarthy. ''I have never witnessed such an attack from any human being. It was vicious and it was unjust.

The Re Ireland jumped 54 to 13 ranking his time "For about eight minutes I am every expletive imaginable from c to w. I was a crap player. I am a crap manager. I am a crap coach. I can't organise training.

I can't make a decision. I can't get inside players' heads. I can't manage people, even though I have been managing him with kid gloves now for six years."

Keane is sent packing.

FACT "I cannot and will not tolerate being spoken to with that level of abuse being thrown at me so I sent him home."

public of from in the FIFA list during asmanager In a news conference held in Dublin, the FAI backed McCarthy's decision. "We view the events with great regret but the manager is fully supported by the association," said FAI treasurer John Delaney.

"We believe the Association provided the best facilities."

McCarthy added he had become increasingly irritated at having to field press inquiries about comments made by Keane, who had maintained his "sanity is more important" than staying with the squad.

Former Republic manager Jack Charlton backed McCarthy's stance.

"Roy's made a mistake and has got to live with the consequences. He's got to face the anger of the fans," he said.

Brian Clough says he would have shot Keane before sending him home. "That's a bit drastic," says McCarthy. "But I know what he means."

McCarthy was flanked at a news conference by new captain Steve Staunton, along with Alan Kelly
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jun 21, 2011
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