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27th Sep 2022

When Roy Keane rinsed Mick McCarthy with the mother of all comebacks on first Ireland trip


Roy Keane Mick McCarthy

You come at the king, you best not miss.

In fairness to Mick McCarthy, he was caught with his pants around his ankles. 1992 was the year and McCarthy, with nine years, over 50 caps and a World Cups experience behind him, could be forgiven for considering himself as one of the big dogs in the Ireland dressing room.

The big dog wants to rule the roost.

The Republic of Ireland team had stuttered through a mickey mouse international football tournament and what followed was a “day and a half of beer,” according to one of the self confessed renegades Niall Quinn.

As a senior member of the squad, Mick McCarthy was seething. He was displeased with the whole show and when his teammates turned up late for the bus home, he had his chance. One-by-one, Mick called them out and threw digs.

“How dare you, you’re a disgrace, you should know better Niall Quinn,” recalled the Dubliner on Virgin Media.

Ronnie Whelan was next in line and just like those who went before him, the seasoned veteran took his scolding on the chin. You commit the crime, you face the time.

Then came a young Roy Keane, 19-years old and swinging for the jugular. Unlike his predecessors, Roy wasn’t prepared to let McCarthy call the shots and when the veteran took Roy on “First trip, disgrace,” the Rebel was hyped up and ready.

“First touch, disgrace,” Keane responded to leave the bus in stitches.

“The whole bus went ‘oh my God, that’s the most incredible comeback I’ve ever heard,” recalled Quinn, “We were kind of rooting for him in one way, even though we were all great friends with Mick!”

McCarthy and Keane face to face but not eye to eye… a sign of things to come.

First published on February 16, 2021.