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O'Neill has no plans to quit

MICHAEL O'Neill says he's keen to stay on as manager of Shamrock Rovers if he can agree on a new deal with the Hoops board.

But the Armagh native admitted that the chance to manage Northern Ireland would be too hard to turn down.

O'Neill and the Rovers players got back to work last night after a break, as they played Swedish side Malmo in a friendly, the Swedes winning 2-0 in front of 1,000 fans.

Some Rovers fans fear that O'Neill may not be in charge at the club next season as he has yet to agree on a new deal, with only two games left in the current season - away to Rubin Kazan and home to Tottenham in the Europa League.

But O'Neill insists that he is not looking to leave. "Discussions between myself and the board are ongoing. I've never suggested that I want to leave Rovers," O'Neill said.

"My three years here have been very successful, and they've been very hard work too if I'm honest. It has been a very enjoyable time to be at the club.

"There's still a lot of work to be done at Rovers. Hopefully the board see me as the right man to drive the club forward," added O'Neill.

He missed out on the chance to manage his old club Hibernians as the Edinburgh side were poised to appoint Pat Fenlon to that position today, but O'Neill remains a candidate for the Northern Ireland job.

"To get the opportunity to manage your country is a great honour. I never ruled myself in or out of that job," said O'Neill, capped 33 times by the North.

"If Northern Ireland wanted to speak to me, they would have to go through the proper channels and through Shamrock Rovers.

"If that situation ever arises, the club will deal with it and I will deal with it. But it's not as if I'm out there touting myself for another job."

Rovers went down 2-0 in Malmo but there was no Irish reunion for Swedish referee Martin Hansson.


He was the referee who failed to spot the Thierry Henry handball which set up William Gallas' goal in the World Cup play-off two years ago and he was listed to ref last night's game.

However, a late switch saw Hansson taken off the Rovers game and added to the refereeing team for a Champions League match.

"The main thing was to play against this level of opposition. We don't get a chance, except when it comes to European competition," said O'Neill after the 2-0 loss. "It's a good experience for the lads to face a team of this quality."