Thursday 23 March 2017

O'Neill to quit Hoops this week after final Euro fling

CATHAL DERVAN

Michael O'Neill will quit as manager of Shamrock Rovers after Thursday night's Europa League visit of Tottenham Hotspur to Tallaght Stadium.

The Sunday Independent has learned that the 42-year-old has decided to seek a fresh start elsewhere after final talks on a new deal with the Rovers board broke down in Dublin yesterday afternoon.

O'Neill's three-year spell in charge of the revitalised Hoops will come to an end when the 2011 season draws to a close with the final Europa League Group A fixture against Spurs.

Sources close to O'Neill have confirmed that he has no alternative job lined up and that he was keen to remain with Rovers after winning two league titles and the Setanta Cup since his arrival from Brechin City in 2009.

But it is understood that differences in opinion over the direction Rovers will take after their European breakthrough this season caused a rift between O'Neill and the board.

A contender for the Hibs job filled by Pat Fenlon last week, O'Neill is also in the frame for the Northern Ireland and Hartlepool United vacancies.

Together with current Rovers assistant Jim Magilton, the former striker is on the IFA's interview shortlist as they look to replace Nigel Worthington.

Hartlepool are also on the look-out for a new manager after sacking Mick Wadsworth this week and are aware of O'Neill from his time with neighbours Newcastle United.

"Michael will not be renewing his contract," confirmed a source close to the Ulsterman last night.

"The club have offered him a two-year deal but the board and Michael have different ideas as to where Rovers can go. They also differ about the potential of the club. Michael has no other job lined up but he will not be signing the new deal."

The news will come as a body blow to Rovers just days after they signed a new sponsorship deal with car company Seat.

When contacted yesterday, Rovers' chairman Jonathan Roche said that "nothing has changed".

He added: "We have a match against Spurs on Thursday, and Michael is contracted with us until December 31."

He denied that there were any talks between the manager and the board yesterday afternoon.

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