SHAMROCK Rovers officials were tight-lipped yesterday after reports that manager Michael O'Neill is preparing to leave the club after Thursday's concluding Europa League clash with Tottenham.
The 42-year-old's contract is expiring and he has been unable to reach agreement with the club on a new deal. It was thought that his future hinged on the situation regarding the vacant post as manager of Northern Ireland.
The former international midfielder had expressed an interest in replacing Nigel Worthington and is on a short-list of candidates that also includes his assistant, Jim Magilton.
However, weekend reports have suggested that he is ready to leave the club whatever happens. He is also believed to be in the running for the position of Hartlepool United manager.
Relations between O'Neill and the Rovers board have soured during the impasse regarding his future and some reports suggest that he has already told the players he's going to leave.
The club were unhappy when he gave a TV interview ahead of the defeat to Rubin Kazan suggesting that his employers had failed to put an offer on the table.
O'Neill is understood to think that the Hoops haven't made a huge effort to retain him, though this is contested by Rovers sources.
Under his stewardship, Rovers have returned to the top of the League of Ireland tree. They wrapped up back-to-back titles in October. However, the highlight of his tenure has undoubtedly been the achievement of steering the Dubliners into the group stages of the Europa League -- the first Irish club to cross that threshold.
Alas, discussion of his future has been a constant theme throughout this campaign. He spoke at the beginning of the season about the issue, stressing that the matter should be resolved swiftly.
Yet the saga rumbled on, with the parties unable to reach agreement. O'Neill has been consistently linked to posts in Scotland, but the Northern Ireland role has proved the real attraction.
The North have taken their time in finding Worthington's successor, with Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers coming out last week to say that he was offered the role on a part-time basis.
While the IFA strenuously denied that story, they appear to have been exploring options beyond the initial main list of candidates, which includes O'Neill, Magilton and Iain Dowie.