After five years as manager and assistant manager of Ireland’s senior football team, Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane have left their roles “by mutual agreement” with the FAI.
A management duo that had the legs to last a lifetime under the unassuming eye of FAI chief John Delaney, the pair and their coaching staff held talks with their employers in the UK last night before agreeing to go their separate ways with immediate effect.
The FAI confirmed the board will meet “promptly” to discuss the process of recruiting a new manager. Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny, former Republic boss Mick McCarthy and Steve Bruce have all been mentioned as potential successors.
O’Neill has spent the last five years in charge of Ireland along with his assistant manager Roy Keane, but endured a torrid 2018, as Ireland were relegated from the Nations League B without winning a game, and managed just one win in eleven games.
In a statement to confirm the decision, Delaney thanked O’Neill, Keane and the rest of the backroom team for their “impact” on the Ireland team.
“There have been many highlights during Martin’s reign – none more so than Euro 2016 in France, which will live long in the memory of all Irish supporters.
“Martin did a great job guiding the team out of a difficult qualifying group – where we beat world champions Germany along the way – to reach Euro 2016 and advance to the Last-16 following a historic victory over Italy in Lille.
He wished the departing management team the best in the future.
Also in the statement, FAI President Donal Conway said: “On behalf of the FAI Board, I would like to thank Martin, Roy, and the management team for their work with the Republic of Ireland team over the last five years.
“Martin ensured that we enjoyed some great nights in the Aviva Stadium and on the road in Lille, Vienna, and Cardiff, which were fantastic high points for Irish football.”
The former Celtic manager took the reins at Ireland in 2013 and led Ireland to qualification for Euro 2016 where they progressed to the knock-out phase before eventually being beaten by France.
O’Neill was rewarded with a contract extension, which was eventually signed after a lengthy delay, but he was unable to steer Ireland to the 2018 World Cup as they lost 5-1 to Denmark in a play-off.
That defeat to the Danes signalled a major downturn in fortunes for O’Neill and Ireland and since that game in 2017, the only game they won came in a post-season friendly international against an under-strength USA team.
Ireland rounded off their 2018 campaign with a 0-0 Nations League draw away to Denmark, a game in which they were totally dominated and failed to muster a single shot on target.