LIAM MACKEY: Dynamic duo give us a taste of more

Tweet of the week/month/year/decade?

Has to be the guy who posted the following just over a week ago: “Martin O’Neill as new Ireland manager, with Roy Keane as his assistant — anyone got any opinions?”

Which was either a most beautifully subtle and sophisticated exercise in intellectual comedy or a sobering insight into the mysterious thought processes of one of life’s terminal innocents.

In any event, it made for a refreshing change from the bulk of twittering on the subject, which tended to fall either side of the Saipan iron curtain that, miraculously, is still standing after all these years.

Incidentally, having recently invested in a Tweet machine, I have been startled to learn something which its most devout devotees and evangelists have, for reasons best known to themselves, kept as a closely guarded secret: approximately 99.7% of the stuff which goes up on Twitter is composed of toxic bile, mind-blowing banality, undiluted gibberish, recycled gags and statements of the bleeding obvious, the soul-deadening effect of the whole noxious stew tempered only by the very welcome fact that the space of which it is a complete waste, is strictly limited.

Apart from that though, the rest is not too bad at all, even if, like a Yukon prospector of old, you have to sift through mountains of bullshit in order to mine a few nuggets.

But, yes, it’s worth it when, for example, some kind soul signposts a link to the David McSavage sketch in which Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta in that immortal “I amuse you?” scene from Goodfellas are recast as Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy — complete with novel added sting in the tale. If you haven’t already done so, check it out now.

Meantime, I think we all know where Martin O’Neill stands on Twitter, and one can hardly blame him given that he has had James McClean for club and now has him again for country. And while I’d certainly back the Derry man’s right to freedom of expression — not least because he has had to contend with some truly poisonous provocation but also, let’s be frank now, because his observations can liven things up on a slow news day — you do have to wonder what kind of catastrophic lapse in self-control prompts a man to let his finger do the talking as destructively as McClean’s did with his wildly inflammatory tweet from inside Ireland’s team bus in Kazakhstan two Septembers ago.

We didn’t get around to canvassing Roy Keane’s opinion on Twitter this week but then I suspect we all have a pretty good guess.

Certainly, I don’t imagine he will be opening an account any day soon in order to share with us all the interesting goings-on behind the scenes in the Irish camp over the coming months and — fingers and toes crossed — years.

In any event, there were few stones left unturned at his press conference. Though there was perhaps one turn left unstoned, Roy saying of his Manchester United gaffer: “I’m not going to sit here and defend myself regarding Alex Ferguson — that’s for another day.” As those eyes narrowed, you couldn’t help wondering: did he mean a bit like Alf-Inge Haaland was for another day? Metaphorically speaking, of course...

Stern in front of the live television cameras, Keane seemed instantly and infinitely more relaxed when talking to a smaller group of print journalists after the main press conference was over. Early on, when asked about his relationship with John Delaney, he had warned that he might be about to “disappoint” people because he would have nothing juicy to relate.

But, of course, Keane is almost congenitally incapable of disappointing in front of a microphone which is why, even though he confounded a lot of expectations on Wednesday — or, more to the point, precisely because he did — the following days’ papers were happy to clear the decks in order to facilitate lengthy verbatim transcripts of his wit and wisdom.

There’s bound to be more where that came from too, but whether we’ll get enough exposure to his musings remains to be seen. When Giovanni Trapattoni was in charge, Marco Tardelli helped share the media load, even if, on any even vaguely contentious matter, the assistant was more than happy to shift responsibility back to the gaffer. “I don’t know, you will have to ask Giovanni...” (Personally speaking, I didn’t have any complaints because my inner fan was always there to remind me that the chunky man in front of me talking about groin strains really and truly was Marco Tardelli, World Cup winner and owner of the Greatest Goal Celebration Of All Time).

Somehow, though, I can’t see any pitchside briefing from Keane putting the emphasis on brief, especially not when we hacks will all be lined up wanting to hear his views on, say, Sepp Blatter’s bright idea to host a World Cup on the moon.

Indeed, with O’Neill well able to talk for Ireland in his own right, I fear we may be put on Roy rations, as the FAI — rightly and routinely from their point of view — stress the primacy of the man in charge. We shall see. In the meantime, it’s enough that the new era in Irish football could hardly have gotten off to a more exciting, surprising and downright entertaining start. Why, they even managed to fit in an oul’ football match last night as well.

More on this topic

Time for Ireland to grow up, says O'BrienTime for Ireland to grow up, says O'Brien

Keane: McGeady needs to relaxKeane: McGeady needs to relax

O'Shea happy with O'Neill startO'Shea happy with O'Neill start

New Ireland era off to solid startNew Ireland era off to solid start


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