Belfast Telegraph

Sexy talk... but Roy Keane only has eyes for Georgia

By Daniel Mc Donnell

"I'm glad the foreplay is over," said Roy Keane, breaking into a smile.

The end of the long wait for competitive action has come as a relief to a new Irish regime which has had just about enough of friendly business.

On a sunny morning in Malahide, innuendo took over as minds turned to Sunday's trip to Georgia, an eagerly anticipated date in the calendar.

"Hopefully it's not an anti-climax," grinned Keane, amid talk of the proper action getting under way. The 43-year-old was in good form as he looked ahead to the Euro 2016 kick-off, striking the balance between sounding a rallying cry and urging everyone to relax and not obsess about the stormy reception that is expected in Tbilisi.

"Everyone seems frightened to death in the media," he said. "You keep going on about a hostile atmosphere. A lot of negativity. Brilliant. Bring it on."

In a previous life, it was Keane the pundit that might have raised questions about the Irish mentality. Now that he's inside the camp, however, Martin O'Neill's sidekick is confident that this group is prepared for a meaningful match after 10 months and eight friendlies.

"It has been fine so far," said Keane.

"There has been no cutting edge to the games. There has been no real pressure. We try and win every game of football but we know, it's crunch time now. That's why we're here."

He is asked if he thinks there will be a different vibe around the camp once they land in Georgia. "I am pretty sure that there will be a different atmosphere in the camp from everybody," he says. "I'm guessing that will happen, particularly when we start naming teams, when we go through certain things. That's what we are in the game for."

O'Neill is renowned for his match-day intensity, but he also reckoned his high-profile back-up could bring something to proceedings when the heat is on.

As Sunday draws closer, the game face is on. "This is what it all boils down to," he declared. "Yes, it's a tough game, particularly away from home, but from the angle I'm looking at, we've got to make sure we get our own act together, get it right tactically, pick the right team, and then we can give them a tough game.

"Hopefully, the players are looking forward to it. I know I am."

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