Monday 19 February 2018

Coleman returns as O'Neill signs deal

 

Ireland captain Seamus Coleman in full flight during Everton’s U-23 match against Portsmouth at Goodison Park last night. Photo: Tony McArdle/Getty
Ireland captain Seamus Coleman in full flight during Everton’s U-23 match against Portsmouth at Goodison Park last night. Photo: Tony McArdle/Getty
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Seamus Coleman delivered a welcome tonic for Ireland fans by playing his first game in ten months on the night that Martin O'Neill finally signed his new contract.

The Ireland skipper successfully came through 58 minutes of Everton's U-23 match with Portsmouth, his biggest step to date in his comeback from the horror of the double leg break he suffered in the World Cup qualifier with Wales last March.

He was missed in Ireland's aborted attempt to make it to Russia, and will be central in the attempt to regroup, rebuild and make Euro 2020 - with O'Neill at the helm for a third term.

The Irish boss officially put pen to paper on a two-year contract extension after arriving in Lausanne ahead of today's UEFA Nations League draw.

His assistant Roy Keane, and backroom staff Steve Walford, Steve Guppy and Seamus McDonagh, are also staying on for a third campaign.

Last October, the FAI announced that O'Neill had agreed to stay on but that announcement was made before terms and conditions was discussed.

It's believed his new contract will be of similar value to his existing deal which is worth in the region of €1.5m per year - but there will be a substantial bonus attached if Ireland make the 24-team tournament.

In the aftermath of November's play-off hammering at the hands of Denmark, the 65-year-old took time out to mull over his options and consider leaving.

FAI CEO John Delaney admitted last week that the association had an "understanding" with O'Neill that allowed him to speak with Premier League clubs if they came calling.

He was the subject of interest over the winter which culminated with a firm offer from Stoke that O'Neill rejected after a process which involved other candidates.

Contract talks were accelerated in the aftermath of the Stoke courtship and legal representatives from both parties finalised a new deal on Monday.

Nations Cup focus - See P54-55

Irish Independent

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