A new book on John Delaney’s time at the FAI, Champagne Football, was published last week. The book was written by Mark Tighe and Paul Rowan and, according to Joe Duffy on Wednesday’s Liveline, it recounts a lot of jaw-dropping incidents, most of them, he conceded, worse than the one he talked about. But the report in the book is surely symptomatic of the culture that pervaded the organisation tasked with developing and maintaining Irish football. Joe read an excerpt from the book about an employee of the association:
“This person had another role in the FAI: ‘I was very good at forging Roy Keane’s signature, as not everyone would ask him. We used to sign a lot of shirts. I don’t want to break any charity’s hearts, but I used to sign it in such a way that I knew it was mine.’”
The employee went on to say that he saw a picture of Bertie Ahern when he was Taoiseach in his office with a signed Roy Keane jersey on the wall behind him and he revealed that it wasn’t signed by one of Ireland’s greatest players, but by the employee himself.
Joe was joined on the line by Eddie O’Mahony, who has, he told him, a few signed jerseys from Roy Keane. And he knows his are the genuine articles:
“I’ve been fortunate enough to meet Roy in person and get the autographs from him directly, so I know they’re real.”
Eddie, as it turns out, is fairly relaxed about the issue of an FAI employee forging a player’s signature on jerseys:
“If there’s some kid who has a shirt sitting up on his wall that he thinks is signed by Roy Keane and maybe it’s not. I was that young boy once who wanted an autograph from the Irish footballers and I would have done anything for somebody to go, ‘Listen Eddie, there’s a shirt that signed by Liam Brady.’ I would never have checked was it Liam Brady’s signature, I would have just been delighted to get it and I would have had a little connection with the Irish football team.”
So, Eddie reckons that this particular revelation from the book should be treated as an anecdote, rather than a malicious action. And Joe agrees. But there’s much more in the book, he says, that’s truly astonishing. You can listen back to the full conversation between Joe and Eddie here.
Eddie’s website is irishsoccershirts.com.
Champagne Football: John Delaney and the Betrayal of Irish Football by Mark Tighe and Paul Rowan is published by Penguin Ireland.
Niall Ó Sioradáin
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