Thursday 19 September 2019

Mick McCarthy on 'cheeky b****x' Robbie Keane, speaking to Declan Rice next month and handing over the job to Stephen Kenny in 2020

25 November 2018; Newly appointed Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, second from right, with, from left, assistant coach Terry Connor, FAI Chief Executive John Delaney and assistant coach Robbie Keane, prior to a press conference at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
25 November 2018; Newly appointed Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, second from right, with, from left, assistant coach Terry Connor, FAI Chief Executive John Delaney and assistant coach Robbie Keane, prior to a press conference at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

John Brennan

Mick McCarthy admitted he could not resist taking over again as Ireland manager when the post was offered to him a few days ago by the FAI.

At his introductory Press Conference, McCarthy was asked whether going back to a job he had held for six years was an issue, McCarthy said, "we'll see whether or not its a good idea to go back in two years time when the Euro qualifying is over. It's been mentioned a few times since 2002, (that I would go back) but here I am now and I was never going to turn it down."

McCarthy said he would not be staying on beyond 2020, at his own choice. "If we do really well in the next two years, then there might be a Premier League job there for me, if we don't, then you won't want me to stay.

"It is vital to qualify (as we are hosting). If we don't qualify, I guess, I'll be off and Stephen might get the job a bit early."

McCarthy said he will meet Declan Rice soon with a view to persuading the West Ham starlet to throw in his lot with the Republic of Ireland. "I'll be doing that soon," he said, "and I suppose, and I hope, I'm a wiser manager now than 20 years ago and I can bring something new to the task of improving the team. And Declan could be part of that."

Inevitably Saipan came up and McCarthy insisted that neither he nor Roy Keane should have their careers judged by those famous events of 2002. "I've the utmost respect for Roy, he was a wonderful player, who did so much to to get us to Japan and Korea and he has been a great player. I hope I'm a better manager now too."

Robbie Keane will be part of the management group. Ireland's record goalscorer was in the Aviva Stadium for the Press Conference, but would not speak to the media, saying he would do so sometime in the future.

The new manager insisted that it was Robbie who suggested to him being part of the backroom team. "My first thought was 'you cheeky b****x', but then I copped that Robbie will bring his special talents to the squad. For all of those players he's a hero for what he did with our team.  They will learn from Robbie."

When it was put to McCarthy that the Irish supporters were now disillusioned with the team, he said, "it's my job to get this place (the Aviva) rocking. It used to rock when I was playing and then when I was manager too. But that's what we've got to do."  

FAI Chief Executive John Delaney confirmed that Stephen Kenny will be responsible for all Irish under-age teams as well as the Under-21's until he takes over the senior side. "That's the vision we have," said Delaney, "that's where we're going, with Stephen and Ruud Dokter leading the way."

Asked whether he would be consulting Martin O'Neill or Roy Keane about the Irish players, McCarthy said: "Martin will be feeling a bit raw so I'll leave him alone and you're probably right, I won't be speaking to Roy."

Delaney said McCarthy was the obvious choice to replace O'Neill, with Kenny - who is held in high regard after his domestic heroics with Dundalk - being lined up to succeed him in 2020.

"This is a very exciting time for Irish football as we are able to welcome back a proven manager at international level in Mick McCarthy and also look to the future with Stephen Kenny," said Delaney.

"Mick was a great player for Ireland and then had a terrific impact as manager by guiding the team to the round of 16 in the 2002 World Cup following a memorable draw with eventual finalists Germany.

"There is no doubt that he knows international football and has the appetite to lead the team forward again."

Online Editors

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