2002: Adios Roy - Keane’s Saipan departure grips the nation

The year in review

On occasion, a sports story transfixes the public attention, almost to the exclusion of everything else that’s happening in the country at the time, as when Roy Keane departed Saipan in May, 2002.

His side of it was that training facilities in Saipan were way below par. Accusations and recriminations abounded as old hurts and slights were dredged up between Mick McCarthy, Keane and his (former) teammates. The country debated who was the bigger man in the row, and whether we needed Roy Keane at all.

The bitter row left a sting still felt nearly 10 years later, when Keane commented after the ‘Hand of Henri’ handball incident (covered again in our review of 2010): “What goes around, comes around”, after referring earlier to “what went on” in Saipan.

2002 also saw the introduction of the Euro on January 1, the re-election of the Fianna Fáil-PD coalition and an apology from the IRA for the deaths of 650 civilians during its 30-year campaign.

In the UK, the bodies of schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman were found two weeks after they disappeared. School caretaker Ian Huntley was later convicted of their murders.

In October, the Bali bombing is described as “as the worst act of terror in Indonesia’s history”. Two hundred and two people die in the nightclub blast. Just two weeks later, 129 hostages are killed in a Moscow theatre when Russian forces storm the building

Late in the year, Michael Jackson shocked his fans when he held his baby son, Prince Michael II, over a fourth-floor balcony in Berlin. Jacko later apologised, saying he had made “a terrible mistake”.

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