Football: Giggs Fears Roy's Ranting Will Spark Ireland into Action; WELSH WARY OF CROKE BACKLASH

The Mirror (London, England), March 24, 2007 | Go to article overview

Football: Giggs Fears Roy's Ranting Will Spark Ireland into Action; WELSH WARY OF CROKE BACKLASH


Byline: Garry Doyle CHIEF SOCCER WRITER

RYAN GIGGS reckons Roy Keane's latest rant will hurt the Welsh players more than the Irish.

Giggs was regularly on the receiving end of Keane's hairdryer treatment during the Cork man's 13-year Old Trafford career - and knows his words can have a galvanising impact.

So when he heard about Keane questioning the ambition of Ireland's senior players earlier this week - Giggs knew that this could end up being a negative rather than a positive for the Welsh.

Giggs said: "As a player, Roy set high standards for himself and expected others to match those.

"He was our captain, our leader and we fully respected him because he had a knack of getting the best out of people.

"He did that as a player, is still doing it as a manager and could do it now with Ireland."

With this surreal backdrop, talk about Keane took the focus briefly away from references to Croke Park.

But not for long. Pretty soon, Giggs - and his manager, John Toshack, were speaking more about a stadium and an occasion than they were about Welsh qualification hopes.

First to Giggs and his impression of Croker.

Giggs said: "It's a magnificent arena and I'm really looking forward to being involved in the first football match there.

"I watched the England-Ireland rugby match there a few weeks ago and got a sense of the occasion and atmosphere.

"Hopefully today will be as good. "But the key thing for us is to just think about the game and not get sidetracked by the occasion.

"It's new territory for the Irish side as well - and that may work to our advantage.

"We're glad the game isn't in Lansdowne Road because that was a fortress for the Irish.

"And the one thing both teams have to get used to here is the dimensions of the pitch and the fact there is so much space all around it.

"From training there yesterday, it was hard to get a sense of the angles and the distances. And that may take a bit of getting used to."

These days, Giggs has been getting used to the fact Wales are a team in transition and can no longer call on household names such as Savage, Hartson and Speed.

Worse yet, injury and suspension have denied them the use of other key assets - Jason Koumas, Robert Earnshaw and Danny Gabbidon - leaving behind a young, raw and seriously inexperienced team.

Asked if those young players would freeze today, Toshack, jokingly referred to the Irish climate rather than the size of the crowd and said it was a possibility.

"I don't want to sound as if I am taking out an insurance policy on my job," said Toshack.

"But the fact is that we've lost a lot of experienced players recently whereas the Irish are in a different stage of their development.

"They have a lot of Premiership players, a defender who is in the Champions League, a goalkeeper who is one of the best around and a striker who is still in the Uefa Cup. …

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