As the Republic of Ireland prepares for a World Cup without Roy Keane, Prime Time examines the fallout of the decision to send the team captain home from Saipan.
Tensions between Republic of Ireland football manager Mick McCarthy and captain Roy Keane came to a head with the player being dismissed from the team just a week before the tournament in commenced.
Nobody could have predicted the turn of events on the pacific island of Saipan.
According to Mick McCarthy and the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), Roy Keane crossed the line from constructive criticism to outright abuse. Roy Keane was sent home after publicly criticising the Irish team's training facilities in Saipan. However, Roy Keane supporters feel this is the latest in a string of destructive decisions by the Irish soccer establishment.
Following a sensational 48 hours in Irish sporting history. Former Manager of the Republic of Ireland Eoin Hand believes that Mick McCarthy made the right decision for the Irish team and their performance.
Mick McCarthy was pushed into a corner where he had to look at the big picture.
At a press conference John Delaney, Honorary Treasurer with the FAI defended Mick McCarthy's decision. Describing Roy Keane as a "super footballer", Delaney says that it is now up to Roy Keane to make a decision on the future of his international career. He also praises Mick McCarthy's leadership to date and says he will not entertain any criticism of him. He refutes the suggestion that Ireland is now the laughing stock of world football adding that the remaining 22 players need our support.
Eoin Hand is of the view that one player can't run the show.
I think it's a sad set of circumstances that it resulted in a great player finishing his international career in such a sad way.
While the FAI believes that the Republic of Ireland can be successful without Roy Keane, for many his loss is seen as a major setback for the team.
Joe O'Shea, World Cup Correspondent for The Star newspaper describes the situation as "a disaster" and is of the view that Roy Keane is the difference between making Ireland a good team and a great team.
This episode of 'Prime Time' was broadcast on 24 May 2002. This report by Eithne O'Brien was introduced by Mark Little.