Money talks as Martin O’Neill steps down, Joe Schmidt to name new XV for USA Test

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Martin O’Neill’s five-year Ireland tenure is over. Photograph: Simon Cooper/PA

Martin O’Neill’s five-year Ireland tenure is over. Photograph: Simon Cooper/PA

The end of an era. Yesterday Martin O’Neill stepped down as Ireland manager after five years, following a dismal run of just one friendly win the national side’s last 11 matches. However, the FAI’s decision to part company with the 66-year-old - and his assistant Roy Keane - was largely down to financial reasons, rather than just as a response to the Republic’s turgid football. Emmet Malone writes: “The reason Delaney and the association’s board took the plunge is that after a truly dismal run of performances and results, they no longer had confidence in O’Neill’s ability to get Ireland to the next European finals. By making it to the second round in France thanks to a win and a draw in the group stage, the FAI grossed €11 million in participation fees and prize money alone. The same performance in 2020 would bring in €14 million.” Former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy - currently without a club after leaving Ipswich Town earlier this year - is the current favourite to replace O’Neill. However this morning Keith Duggan argues Ireland need a long term plan and vision rather than a quick fix. He writes: “ What matters is that there are football people like Kerr and Stephen Kenny and Lee Carsley, the reliable midfield general of the first McCarthy era now on the coaching staff of the England U-21 team, with the knowledge and vitality and imagination to come up with a blueprint for how a small country could guide today’s eight-year-olds through a football culture that truly backs itself.”

Elsewhere Johnny Sexton has been named the Guinness Rugby Writers’ Ireland Player of the Year following a 2017/18 campaign which saw him steer Ireland to a Grand Slam and a series win in Australia - as well as helping Leinster to a fourth Champions Cup title. Sexton is one player who won’t feature in Saturday’s final November Test match against the USA, with Joe Schmidt set to name an entirely new XV from the side which beat the All Blacks last weekend. Munster’s Sam Arnold is set to be the only debutant when the Ireland boss announces his side at lunchtime today.

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