O'Neill's joy is Kean's pain
At the Stadium of Light
As Martin O'Neill headed skywards, Steve Kean's shoulders slumped inside his black overcoat. As O'Neill took the Stadium of Light's acclaim, Kean felt the frustrations of 319 Blackburn supporters.
It was stoppage time at Sunderland and the brutally fine margins of management made O'Neill an instant Wearside hero following his recent appointment but left the besieged Kean the villain once more.
O'Neill had barely touched down after celebrating Sebastian Larsson's winner before some of the hardy Rovers fans who had made their way from Lancashire were making their anger plain to Kean.
And yet only six minutes earlier, it looked like O'Neill was going to start his Sunderland reign as a loser and Kean would be handed fresh ammunition to fight his detractors.
Blackburn's Kean (left) can only look on as Sunderland boss O'Neill celebrates. Photo - Getty
O'Neill admitted he had not envisaged such a finale "in my wildest dreams", while Kean - not so much celebrating a year in charge at Blackburn as surviving it - only had the nightmare scenario to mull over after watching the home side snatch an unlikely win via David Vaughan's equaliser and Larsson's angled free-kick.
O'Neill was still flying on neat adrenalin when he arrived for his post-match inquisition, even stopping himself at one stage as the words tumbled from his lips in an excited torrent.
During the match, he had prowled the technical area in a familiar mixture of frustration, fury, encouragement and tension, even finding time for a touchline chat with Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen in the first half.
The body language spoke of release after 16 months out of football, O'Neill conceding the win had given him back "in abundance" what he had been missing.
"There will be many a dark day around the corner," he said as he revisited an old Irish saying. But, on this day at least, the Stadium of Light saw a little illumination.
It was the start of what will be a long journey to possible rehabilitation for Sunderland, with O'Neill admitting "we have got a million miles to go".
And while the first steps were hesitant, there were some of the signs that persuaded chairman Ellis Short to describe as him "an outstanding motivator".
It is fair to say that O'Neill enjoyed some beginner's luck, though. Kean, on the other hand, was deserted by fortune when he needed it.
You suspect large sections of Blackburn fans, understandably fearful for the future under the Venky's regime and unhappy with their manager, would not be convinced by Kean if he guided them into the Champions League and then won it. Even they, however, may accept he has not carried much luck.
Luck was certainly not on his side on Sunday. Rovers had an early shout for a penalty ignored by referee Peter Walton after Yakubu tangled with Titus Bramble, while Chris Samba was penalised for an innocuous challenge on Sunderland keeper Keiren Westwood just as Scott Dann moved to add to Simon Vukcevic's early opener.
Gael Givet had to go off after complaining of heart palpitations in the first half, while his replacement, Martin Olsson, suffered a hamstring injury. Michel Salgado sustained suspected broken ribs. Not exactly lashings of good fortune.
What was not so palatable for the visiting supporters was Blackburn's apparent tactical retreat into their own penalty area for the entire second half.
Kean's caution was tempting fate, although defeat was particularly cruel on the magnificent Samba, who was flawless and brave throughout.
Kean expressed his excitement at the prospect of successive home games against West Bromwich Albion and Bolton.
But, with Blackburn in the Premier League's bottom three, those matches will be accompanied by huge pressure on both team and manager.
Blackburn's players defended and fought in a manner that backed their post-match message that they are fully behind Kean.
Hard luck stories do not sustain seasons or managerial careers, however, so Kean needs a happier tale to tell - and fast.
O'Neill had a spring in his step, or more accurately his leap, after Larsson made the decisive contribution, but the former Wycombe, Leicester, Celtic and Aston Villa boss will not be fooled by one win and can be expected to embark on a ruthless reconstruction.
He was rightly delighted with the display of the inventive Vaughan and the "genuine" attitude of his players, as well as openly excited by the cameo performed by substitute James McClean, who was brought on at a crucial stage, with Sunderland trailing.
The new manager had helped to change the outcome with a decisive intervention - just what the fans who made the Stadium of Light echo in welcome before kick-off wanted.
Sunderland still struggled to fashion a clear threat from possession and pressure, a flaw that contributed to the downfall of O'Neill's predecessor, Steve Bruce.
But there was endeavour, persistence and a refusal to accept what, for long periods, looked like being another deflating defeat.
These are at least some blocks upon which O'Neill can build, although Sunderland still display all the signs of a long-term project.
In the build-up to this game, O'Neill revealed his desire to preside over a team that played like Barcelona. On Sunday, all he wanted was a Sunderland team that won a game of football - and he got his wish.
All Kean got was another example of how the game can kick a manager when he's down.