“You can’t kid a kidder,” he said afterwards. “I wouldn’t be a great one for hiding my feelings anyway if I tried.” Indeed, the disappointed manager was only marginally more diplomatic by the time he arrived in the Cork City boardroom for a post-match press conference.
“Poor enough from our point of view,” he began. “I thought we started badly and gradually got worse.”
The overall performance “wasn’t acceptable” and the two goals conceded were “abysmal at any level”. And, reminded that he had spoken of a two-year promotion time-frame when he took up the Ipswich job, he mordantly quipped: “After today, I would have thought 22.”
At the same time, Keane was quick to add that it’s dangerous to over-analyse pre-season games. He also signalled preparations for the new Championship season would intensify over the coming days and weeks.
“Over the next week or two we’ll have to start really nailing down team shape and certain players,” he said. “And I believe that, in three weeks, we’ll be ready for the Coventry game and the big battle ahead.’’
But, as much as he was critical of his own side yesterday, Keane was also quick to praise Cork City.
“Credit to Cork. I keep saying that’s the beauty of coming over here. They’ve got some good players and it was the same at Finn Harps 10 days ago. The League of Ireland teams are good. And I would never underestimate them – I’ve played League of Ireland myself. It’s tough, you don’t get much time on the ball – sometimes you might get even more in England.”
Asked how he felt about the demotion of his old club Cobh Ramblers to the ‘A’ league and the current problems at Turner’s Cross, Keane replied: “Shocking. I think it’s horrible. You saw Cork City playing there and they’re a good team. There was a good turnout and they obviously mean a lot to the people of Cork, just as Cobh did to the people of Cobh. And for them to just disappear over the next few weeks would be an absolute disaster. Please God something will fall into place for them.”
Having left Turner’s Cross on a previous visit, as the then manager of Sunderland, with Roy O’Donovan and David Meyler, Keane this time says he has no plans to take any current City players to Ipswich. Nor, despite his previously stated regard for the player, will he be seeking out Colin Healy, who is currently in Hartlepool discussing a move to that club.
“He’s not a player we’d be looking at the moment,” said Keane. “Obviously I wish him well and he’s a good player but I’ve got to wheel and deal at my own end. And I have to maybe move one or two on before we start bringing more players into the club.
“One or two will fall by the wayside. Some players had another opportunity (against Cork) to impress me and they didn’t take that. Certainly, some players are running out of chances, shall we say.”
But not Leesider Shane O’Connor. The former Liverpool academy player didn’t play yesterday but had featured in last Friday’s win at Waterford, albeit filling in at left-back rather than his favoured left-side of midfield position. But yesterday Keane confirmed the youngster has now been offered a one-year deal at Portman Road which the manager expects him to sign today.