Sunday 18 March 2018

FAI silence after Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill hits out at recruitment​


Michael O’Neill. Photo: PA
Michael O’Neill. Photo: PA

Daniel McDonnell​

The FAI stayed silent last night after Michael O'Neill criticised their recruitment of Catholic players born in Northern Ireland.

Abbotstown officials did not respond to requests for a comment in response to an interview with the Northern Ireland manager.

He lashed out at the FAI for approaching players in the Northern Irish underage set-up who have a nationalist background and getting them to switch sides - a move that binds them to the Republic even if they end up not representing them at senior level.

O'Neill wants opposite number Martin O'Neill to enter into a gentleman's agreement for the FAI to stop approaching players that have been capped by Northern Ireland between the age of 17 and 21. He said the FAI would have to move for players before they reached that age.

"The FAI only ever approach one type of player: Catholic," he said. "I don't have a problem with James McClean (choosing the Republic). He was 22 years of age, he knew what he wanted. I have a problem when it's a 16-, 17- or 18-year-old having to make a decision on his international future."

The Republic of Ireland boss may have to address the issue at tomorrow's squad announcement for the trip to Turkey.

Irish Independent

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