Thursday 18 January 2018

Dream team: Two years for Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane to get job done for Ireland

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane have been given two years to revive the fortunes of the Irish football team after signing contracts that will expire when Ireland's interest in Euro 2016 ends.

There had been suggestions that the pair would sign a longer deal and, while there would be a natural clamour for their retention in the event of a successful campaign, the FAI's initial €2m-a-year commitment to the new package has been structured with a single target in mind and that is making it to France.

Ray Houghton, who was part of the selection process, hinted at the terms last night. "It's for as long as we go in the Euros, so if we qualify for the Euros it will go right through," said the former international team-mate of Keane's.

"It's not (the next World Cup) at the moment, but all the details will come out on Saturday, including all the other people that will be alongside them."

Speaking for the first time on their unlikely union, the managerial pair stressed their shared sense of anticipation regarding the road ahead. And Keane made clear what their immediate objective is in the new brief. "We look forward to working with the players and trying to get to the Euros," he said.

O'Neill, who was working alongside Keane for ITV in their coverage of the Champions League meeting of Real Sociedad and Manchester United, enthused about his assistant.

Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane in Spain last night
Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane in Spain last night

"Personally speaking, I think he'll be great for me, but, more importantly, he'll be great for the Republic of Ireland," said O'Neill. "I think I'm the bad cop and he's the bad, bad cop. We're excited by it, it looks as if we've got something to go with and we're looking forward to it greatly."

Keane will start work in England this weekend and will therefore be absent when O'Neill faces the cameras at Saturday's unveiling. The Irish squad for the games with Latvia and Poland are scheduled to convene in Portmarnock on Sunday evening, and it will not be selected by the new duo.

Noel King, caretaker for the final World Cup qualifiers, will today pick a 27-man panel. O'Neill, who has work to do on the construction of his back-room staff, is satisfied with that arrangement and no surprises are expected.

Irish Independent

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