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A new beginning for the cult of Keane

As Roy Keane strode out on to Cork City’s pitch ahead of a summer friendly, Sunderland’s manager reminded an adoring audience of his enduring capacity to surprise. Keane has always revelled in wrong-footing opponents and a subtle body swerve duly ensured that two photographers, detailed to track his every step, instead collided with each other and ended up rolling, comically, across the turf.

The thousands of Sunderland fans who recently holidayed in the Irishman’s home city are confident that a similar fate awaits their newly promoted team’s Premier League opponents prada online, starting with Tottenham Hotspur who visit the Stadium of Light this lunchtime.

Although Keane admits he is unsure how his side will fare in the top flight, such uncertainty is not shared by his growing army of devotees, on Wearside and in Ireland, who are unwilling to countenance even the slightest suggestion that their idol might have clay feet.

Without a competitive ball being kicked – and ignoring real concerns about the lack of household names contained in a Sunderland squad unfashionably dominated by British and Irish players – they already believe that Keane, rather than Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho, is football’s authentic “Special One”.

That feeling is endorsed by regulars at Cork’s Templeacre Tavern, who have long been convinced their local hero is the natural heir to his original mentor, the late Brian Clough, and that Sunderland are poised to become Authentic Prada Canvas Bag a latter-day version of Clough’s for so long over-achieving Nottingham Forest side.

The Templeacre has always been a popular pub but long-standing patrons, who remember Keane propping up the bar during his years in a Forest midfield noted for the sort of purist passing now being reproduced at the Stadium of Light, probably never envisaged his favourite drinking haunt turning into a tourist attraction. These days, though, the hilltop hostelry in one of Cork’s most solidly working-class districts is an essential stopping-off point on a pilgrimage undertaken by growing numbers of Sunderland supporters.

Invariably armed with digital cameras and frequently wearing “SundIreland” T-shirts, fans fresh off low-cost flights from north-east England are increasingly keen to visit the places which shaped Keane’s youth and meet the people he still feels most at home with.

They duly pay homage at a modest mid-terrace property on a 60s-style estate in Lotamore Park, Mayfield, a northern suburb of Cork, where Authentic Prada Handbags Wholesale Keane grew up. Local children wave proudly to the taxis which regularly slow outside before pointing up to what apparently used to be the local hero’s bedroom window.

Afterwards those taxis typically head into undulating countryside just outside the city and on down a single track lane towards the salubrious, slightly Dallasesque pad Keane has bought for his parents before calling in at Brian Dillon’s Boxing club – (where he learnt to look after himself) – and Rockmount, the club that taught him how to play football.

“The Sunderland supporters like to stop and take pictures of each other at places on the ‘pilgrimage’; they’re fascinated by Keane,” explained Michael O’Donovan, who runs a taxi business in Cork. “We get a lot coming over now.”

And never more so than during the last few days of July when the Premiership new boys called into their manager’s home town for that drawn pre-season friendly, which was part of a tour of Ireland also involving games in Dublin and Galway.

“It’s what touring with the Beatles must have been like,” said a Sunderland official, astounded by Keane’s pop star-like reception. “I can’t imagine that even David Beckham provokes this sort of depth of devotion.”

The considerable irony is that while Beckham adores playing the fame game, his former Manchester United captain detests it. Most managers would have milked the ear-splitting applause he received before that friendly in Cork to the maximum but Keane offered his fans only the briefest of salutes and turned a deaf ear when Cork followers implored him to give them a wave.

Later, in a cramped cubbyhole of a press room, Keane signed autographs for local reporters politely enough but wearing a perplexed look. When asked about his lack of waving, Sunderland’s manager replied: “I don’t like to lap it up. I don’t believe it’s right. Supporters come to see footballers not managers, they’ve come to watch a game of football, not look at me.”

Even so, as Clough could have reminded him, there are advantages to being a bigger star than any of your players and these extend much further than winning last season’s Championship while out-rotating Mourinho by contrarily fielding a different team in each game. “I wake up every day and just think ‘Thank God that Roy Keane is my manager,'” admitted Dickson Etuhu, the midfield enforcer recently signed from Norwich. “He just inspires you.”

But not with the cliched platitudes that roll off many managers’ tongues. Perhaps perversely for a man born just a few miles down the road from Ireland’s famous Blarney Stone, Keane, although always articulate and analytical, simply does not do schmaltzy charm and has no time for small talk.

What the Premiership’s outstanding midfielder of the 90s does do, though, is a considerable amount of largely unpublicised charity work in and around Cork, frequently involving deprived and handicapped children but also featuring regular donations to Rockmount football club. “Roy Keane does an awful lot for charity here,” said O’Donovan. “He’s incredibly generous. You’ll struggle to find anyone Bergdorf Goodman Prada Mens Shoes with a bad word to say about him.”

Tellingly Keane – so often hostile to perceived intrusions into his personal space – cut a more relaxed, less defensive than normal figure in Cork, happily cradling a week-old baby while the proud parents took countless photographs and even refrained from ticking off a teenager who, rather daringly, interrupted a Authentic Prada Bags Online Singapore training session with a request for a shirt signing.

Meanwhile, the night Authentic Prada Americas Cup Sneakers before the friendly, visiting fans crammed into Cashman’s Bar where Keane’s father, Mossie, and his brother Johnston held court, indulging their audience with gossip about Roy’s managerial role models, Clough and Sir Alex Ferguson, not to mention his one-time nemesis, Mick McCarthy.

In the city centre streets surrounding Cashman’s, Cork’s shops seemed filled with replica Sunderland kits, reinforcing suggestions that Keane’s latest incarnation has persuaded many of his Irish admirers to swap English footballing allegiances. “I always followed Manchester United because Roy was there and I still do but, like a lot of people here, I also support Sunderland now,” explained O’Donovan. “Quite a few fly over to watch Sunderland’s games. The airlines are doing very well.”

Ironically, it was all so very different Are Prada Trainers Made In Vietnam when McCarthy managed Sunderland, and most Cork residents routinely willed them to lose. A few dissenters apart, the vast majority of locals backed Keane in the aftermath of his infamous fallout with the then Republic of Ireland manager, which ended with him storming out Authentic Prada Bags For Sale Philippines of the team’s pre-2002 World Cup training base in Saipan.

The two protagonists have since called a truce, but, far from forgotten, their almighty row continues to be re-enacted near nightly on stages across Britain and Ireland. Accordingly, hoardings advertising the return of the touring musical I Keano – a comic take on Saipan which transposes the affair into a Greek tragedy with McCarthy reinvented as the stubborn General Macartacus – to the Cork Opera House stared down at Sunderland fans strolling by the River Lee.

With Barberino Factory Outlet Prada Roy – a Footballer’s Tale, another Keane-centric play, having also pulled in Ireland’s summer theatre-goers, it appears that no one can get enough of Sunderland’s manager.

Nevertheless, by the end of last season those cameramen who habitually trained lenses on his dugout in expectation of a rant, or possibly even spot of fisticuffs – with a player, referee, or, God willing, rival manager – were growing a little bored.

Much as the young Keane who caroused his beery way around Cork’s nightspots gave way to a zealously clean-living father of five whose principal hobby is walking his dog, Triggs, the United captain noted for routinely subjecting Old Trafford team-mates to excruciating criticism has morphed into a Zen-like figure renowned for touchline tranquillity.

The pressures of the Premier League may yet puncture this new-found serenity but it appears that one of football’s hottest tempers has been replaced by the sort of ice-cool logic which could well leave more excitable rivals looking slightly hysterical.

“We never expected Roy Keane to be like this, he’s lost it a couple of times in the dressing room but, Are Prada Black Prada Doctor Bag Trainers Made In Vietnam compared to most managers, he’s extraordinarily calm, very quiet,” explained the defender Nyron Nosworthy. “Not that anyone can ever guess what he’s going to do next, though.”

If Clough, a once prolific Sunderland striker who always regretted not managing the club, is watching Keane from above, he will surely be smiling broadly.