McDonnell to team up with Kerr again as assistant with the Faroe Islands


INTERNATIONAL NEWS:FORMER ST Patrick’s Athletic manager Johnny McDonnell will head out to the Faroe Islands this weekend in order to meet some of the national team’s players and officials after being recruited by Brian Kerr to work as his assistant.

The 45-year-old was in buoyant form yesterday as he contemplated the prospect of starting his new job, announcing he was “looking to learn a bit of Faroese off the internet”.

McDonnell goes back a long way with Kerr, having played in the championship winning sides at Richmond Park of 1990 and ’96. The pair would have remained good friends after Kerr moved on to work with the FAI, ultimately as manager of the senior team and their professional relationship was renewed a couple of years back when McDonnell had taken on the manager’s job with the Inchicore outfit and Kerr returned as director of football.

With the financial support of property developer Garrett Kelleher, the club assembled an impressive squad but never quite achieved the hoped for success despite some close run things at home and a good run in the 2008/’09 Uefa Cup.

Kerr had left by then, moving back into international management with the Faroese, while McDonnell eventually departed at the end of the season as the club contemplated a return to part-time football.

He subsequently spent six months back in charge of another of his former clubs, Newry Town, but resigned last month and had been considering his next move when the call came from Kerr.

“I’m glad I did the Newry thing because I’d finished the Pro License and you need to be involved after doing that but this is great, it’s moving on to another level. Brian said it to me a couple of weeks back and told to me to think it over because of all the time away that would be involved but that didn’t take long, I’m well used to all of that, it goes with being involved in football and I’m dying to get going now.”

Aside from his club jobs, McDonnell has been involved to various degrees in working with a number of Irish underage national teams in recent years and says the experience has given him a taste for it.

Most recently he had talked to the FAI about assisting Paul Doolin with the under-23 team but he will be concentrating his efforts now on helping to prepare the Faroese for the forthcoming European Championship campaign.

“We have games lined up in Denmark, probably, and definitely Luxembourg before the summer and then afterwards we start the campaign against Estonia before playing Serbia and Italy in September. I’m buzzing about the thought of it all,” he laughed, “I haven’t been this excited since I got my confirmation money.”

McDonnell will work alongside Kerr’s other assistant, Jens Martin Knudsen, and, he says, perform all the normal functions of the job along with anything else that’s thrown his way.

“Obviously Brian’s full-time at it where as I’ll be going up for stints of seven or 10 days around games. I’m thrilled about it. It’s a chance to work in a full international set-up, to be part of a team that’s pitting its wits against the very best in the world. It’s a chance to learn and to network. It’s just a brilliant opportunity, I can’t wait to get started.”