Sunday 18 November 2018

North boss Michael O'Neill admits he met with Ireland call-up Jimmy Dunne

 

Dunne was approached by Northern Ireland in recent weeks about switching allegiance. Photo: Sportsfile
Dunne was approached by Northern Ireland in recent weeks about switching allegiance. Photo: Sportsfile
Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill. Photo: PA
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has joked that Hearts defender Jimmy Dunne owes him two cappuccinos after his call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad.

Martin O'Neill admitted earlier this week that the North's reported interest in Dunne was a factor in the Dundalk man's call-up to his provisional panel for Thursday's friendly between the sides and the UEFA Nations League game in Aarhus.

And his IFA counterpart was amused by Dunne's sudden elevation given that Noel King only gave him an U-21 debut last month. The ex-Shamrock Rovers boss has confirmed he held talks with Dunne.

"Jimmy is a player at Hearts where one of my coaches (Austin McPhee) is the assistant manager and he's represented by Colin Murdock who Jonny Evans' dad works for so there is a lot of contact," said O'Neill.

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"We knew Jimmy had a grandparent from Northern Ireland. I had a conversation with Jimmy in Edinburgh, he lives 10 minutes away from me. I told him if it was something he wanted to explore then great but it's a massive decision and I told him I wouldn't expect him to make the decision lightly.

"As a result of that he's got picked for the Republic of Ireland… so he owes me two cappuccinos. Seriously though, I'm delighted for him. To be called up after 15 minutes of U-21 football - he must have been very good in those 15 minutes."

O'Neill said the relationship between the two managers is "fine" despite clashing earlier this year over recruitment and eligibility.

"The relationship with Martin is the same as it is with any other international manager," he said. "We don't actively speak on the phone but if we see each other at games, of course we talk. Our paths haven't crossed much."

Irish Independent

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