Sunday 26 March 2017

O'Neill commits to new deal: Ireland manager staying on board for World Cup qualification bid

Getting ready to sign on the dotted line – Martin O’Neill and coach Steve Guppy in Abbotstown yesterday before the announcement that the Ireland management team had extended their deal with the FAI until 2018. Photo: DAVID MAHER/SPORTSFILE
Getting ready to sign on the dotted line – Martin O’Neill and coach Steve Guppy in Abbotstown yesterday before the announcement that the Ireland management team had extended their deal with the FAI until 2018. Photo: DAVID MAHER/SPORTSFILE
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill travels to France today after deciding to extend his stay as Ireland manager regardless of what happens in the European Championships.

The FAI have announced that O'Neill, his assistant Roy Keane and backroom staff Steve Guppy, Seamus McDonagh and Steve Walford have agreed new contracts which will keep them at the helm for the World Cup 2018 campaign.

It brings an end to a lengthy process that looked like being resolved when Ireland's interest in the Euros drew to a close.

O'Neill has been in ongoing discussions with the FAI about reaching an agreement ahead of the finals but appeared relaxed about a delay as he kept his options open. The 64-year-old earns €1m a year under the terms of his current deal plus bonuses and it's understood there were proposed changes to that contract which needed to be talked through.

He was also conscious of the example of Giovanni Trapattoni who agreed a contract before Euro 2012 but immediately came under pressure when the team flopped in Poland.

The FAI erred on that occasion, but have full trust that O'Neill is the right man for the road ahead. Both O'Neill and Keane have been linked with returns to the club sphere, and the latter is keen to go out on his own again.

O'Neill has said that he would not stand in his way if a suitable position arose, but the agreement of an extension protects the FAI's position in case an approach materialises.

"It has been an absolute privilege to have been in charge of the Republic of Ireland national team these last 30 months, and we go to France in good spirits with a strong desire to do well in the next few weeks," said O'Neill.

"The players have done brilliantly in the campaign so far and they are ready for the big challenges ahead. I am delighted that (chief executive) John Delaney and the FAI Board have extended our contracts."

Delaney said: "The board of the FAI were unanimous in offering Martin and his full management team a renewal of their contracts.

"Since Martin has taken over, we have achieved the objective of qualifying for the Euros and he has led the project in helping to develop some of the emerging talents in Irish football, including Robbie Brady and Shane Duffy, right up to the recent introduction of Callum O'Dowda, who made his senior debut last week.

"I am delighted to have worked with Martin and his team through qualification for the Euros, and I and all of the staff in the association look forward to working with them into the future."

The Ireland squad fly to France this afternoon and will make their way to their tournament base in Versailles. Keane said yesterday that the fitness of Jon Walters is the main concern with a view to next Monday's tournament opener against Sweden at the Stade de France.

The Stoke City man may not train until the weekend.

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport