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The Phantom Meanace
on 5 September 2002
So it's finally here. After all the controversy, Roy's vitriolic tome has hit the shelves. Except that it isn't just Keano's vitriol we are subjected to. Eamonn Dunphy's trademark prose style, familiar to Irish readers, practically leaps off every page. The job of ghost writer must surely be to articulate the subject's thoughts in such a way so as to not notice the joins. Yet Dunphy constantly produces passages which could be mistaken for John B. Keane rather than his gladitorial compatriot. Witness Roy making no bones about his academic efforts (or lack of) at school yet being able to tell us that "What I do recall was a palpable sense of pessimism and apathy among the people Mayfield Community School purported to serve". Nice. His constant references to Mick McCarthy as "Captain Fantastic" (a sarcastic reference to the title of McCarthy's own autobiography of a decade ago) are pure Dunphy. All of this makes it impossible to believe you are getting an insight into just one mind.
All the infamous moments are here. The bust up in Saipan. The Haaland tackle. But the enigma that is Roy Keane is never satisfactorily explored. In fact, Keane seems just as baffled by it as anyone else. Other than trumpeting his unflappable desire to win at any cost he remains a frustrated, flawed genius. Despite being resigned to courting trouble every time he went out on the town in Manchester or Cork, he was always up for a session instead of being at home with his family. The guilt tortured him, yet we are never given any reason as to why he persisted.
Yet some good can come from this book. The shambles that is the FAI has finally been laid bare here for all to see. Keane and Dunphy may someday be hailed as the saviours of Irish Football. But Roy clearly has many other issues in his life to deal with. Whether the therapy of this project helps him to save what remains of his career remains to be seen.