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Jokers In The Pack
John O’Shea and Stephen Hunt could also be among Ireland’s aces as they do Euro 2012 battle. When not coming on like Morecambe & Wise, the Waterford duo talk about why they don’t fear any of their Group C rivals or England; the emergence of James McClean; our wealth of attacking options and the first-class benefits of Keano’s Saipan bust-up.
, 11 Jun 2012
It’s the Thursday evening before Ireland’s 1-0 smiting of Bosnia & Herzegovina and John O’Shea – he didn’t play because of an ankle niggle – and his roommate Stephen Hunt are winding up an interview with Today FM’s Matt Cooper.
This being the tenth anniversary of Saipangate, the pair have been asked for their thoughts on Roy Keane’s dramatic departure from the Republic’s World Cup training camp.
“I obviously didn’t let Mick McCarthy know that Roy Keane was my favourite player before signing for Wolves,” Stephen Hunt says in an accent that positively screams “Waterford!”
“It’s something I’ve kept to myself ‘til now, like,” the 30-year-old resumes. “It’s made the FAI ensure that everywhere we’re going the preparations are spot-on. It’s about the level of professionalism being turned up a few notches.”
“We raise our glasses of orange juice in toast to Keano every time we’re traveling first-class these days,” O’Shea adds with a chuckle.
The very nice FAI lady has told us that John and Stephen are the comedians in the squad – a post-footie career as Burly & Curly awaits – and they don’t disappoint with a constant barrage of one-liners and barbs, most of them directed at each other.
Reminded that in his last Hot Press interview he’d called his friend “bonkers”, O’Shea pulls a face and says, “That’s right… and he’s gotten worse!”
Other things we glean from their tête-à-tête with Matt Cooper is that they’d both step up and take penalties if any of Ireland’s games end in a shoot-out; the atmosphere in the squad really couldn’t be any better; despite being in LA, Robbie Keane hasn’t gone Hollywood and if forced to choose they reckon that Cristiano Ronaldo is a marginally more complete player than Lionel Messi – we look forward to that debate raging on the hotpress.com Message Board.
If the lads think that radio duties completed they’re heading back to the team hotel in Malahide for dinner, they’re very much mistaken.