‘F*** off going back to Cork’: Roy O’Donovan recalls his one falling out with Roy Keane

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Former Sunderland striker Roy O’Donovan has recalled the one falling out he had with his then-manager Roy Keane.

Keane had signed him from Cork City in 2007, but the prospect of O’Donovan returning to Cork for his girlfriend’s 21st birthday party during an international break put him in Keane’s crosshairs.

O’Donovan had been given permission to travel home by Keane’s assistant, as the manager wasn’t at the training ground following a loss. On the Thursday before his return home, however, a call came down from the office.

“‘The gaffer wants to see Liam Miller, Anthony Stokes and Roy O’Donovan,’” he told the42.ie’s The Football Family podcast.

“I know Miller and Stokesy are in trouble, they’ve been late again. I’m thinking to myself, ‘What’ve I done? I’m going to get abused here.’

“We got sent into the boardroom and he made us wait there for about 10 minutes. All of a sudden he nearly kicks in the door into the boardroom.

“He gives it to Liam Miller and he gives it to Stokesy for five or 10 minutes: ‘Ye’re always late! Ye’re a joke! What are ye driving? I’ve never seen people’s cars to break down as much as ye. How are ye so late?’

“He’s abusing them and I’m thinking, ‘What’ve I done?’ Then he literally just spun on his heel and gave me the thousand-yard stare.

“He was like: ‘And you, big-time Charlie, heading back to Cork for some big party. Oh yeah, I heard all about it. Hello magazine, The Evening Echo, The Sun, The Star, they’re all going to be there, are they? Well, you can fucking forget about that, because you won’t be going there, right? We’re playing Chelsea next week and you’ve got half a chance of playing, so fuck off out of my office, and fuck off going back to Cork!’

“Obviously I was fucking frozen. I came out a little bit rattled from that. It was the only time really I suppose that I saw that side of him. But that was just him trying to keep my feet on the ground.

“He could be so angry but he still had the Cork wit that you didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when he was giving out to you. He could be very funny but you wouldn’t dare laugh. I really enjoyed working with him. He was a great guy.”

O’Donovan, who turns 34 next month, is entering his fifth season playing in the Australian A-League, having last month signed for Brisbane Roar.

Keane left his role as assistant manager of Nottingham Forest last month, days before manager Martin O’Neill was sacked.

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