Wednesday 22 November 2017

Fenlon and O'Neill heading for exit

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

PAT FENLON met with the Bohemians board last night to discuss his future having emerged as the favourite for the vacant Hibernian job.

The news comes on the same day Shamrock Rovers manager Michael O'Neill admitted he would be interested in the vacant Northern Ireland manager's job.

Two weeks ago the former midfielder appeared to have ruled himself out of contention to replace Nigel Worthington when he said he was committed to his current role at Shamrock Rovers.

But speaking directly about the Northern Ireland post for the first time, the 42-year-old said his future was "very much up in the air" and that he would "consider anything that comes along."

"My contract (with Rovers) ends shortly and I'm in discussions about a new one," O'Neill said. "My future is very much up in the air to be honest and the Northern Ireland job is very attractive, no doubt about that."

Fenlon, meanwhile, has been interviewed for the position, although he is believed to face competition from O'Neill and St Mirren supremo Danny Lennon, both former Hibs players.

The Edinburgh club are on the look out for a new manager after parting company with Colin Calderwood on November 6.

They are not expected to name a replacement until next week, but bookmakers slashed odds on Fenlon on Tuesday and he remains the strong favourite.

The Bohs boss was on the verge of leaving Dalymount Park in January 2010 when Dundee United made an approach, but the move stalled due to the Dublin club's compensation demands. Another potential move to Kilmarnock faltered that summer for similar reasons.

But given the state of the finances in Phibsboro, the club are unlikely to stand in Fenlon's way if he agrees a deal with Hibs.

Bohs owe more than €4m to Zurich Bank and are seeking to sell their stadium to service their debt.

Having embarked on a series of cost-cutting measures over the past year, Fenlon's salary is one of the last remaining expenses in line with the days when the Gypsies were one of the League of Ireland's big spenders.

The former Shels manager has seen his budget cut from €1.7m to €250,000 and last season was forced to pull together a squad at the last minute who finished fifth in last year's Premier Division.

With St Mirren likely to fight to keep Lennon, the two Irish based managers appear the more attractive option for Hibs who are currently ninth in the SPL.

Irish Independent

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