FAI will not meet this week’s deadline to announce a new Ireland manager

Marc Canham briefs board meeting on Wednesday as John O’Shea remains open to interim or assistant coach role

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) will not announce a Republic of Ireland manager this week, despite previous indications to the contrary.

The five month search to find Stephen Kenny’s replacement could now stretch out until the June friendlies against Hungary and Portugal.

It is even possible that whoever the FAI appoint, they will be unavailable until after Euro 2024 in Germany, which ends on July 14th.

Director of Football Marc Canham has taken full control of the recruitment process since chief executive Jonathan Hill left the association on Monday. Hill’s official departure date is April 30th but he is now on holiday.


The 14-person FAI board, chaired by Tony Keohane, meets on Wednesday when Canham will present an update on a situation that has become increasingly embarrassing for the association.

John O’Shea, the interim manager for last month’s friendlies against Belgium and Switzerland, claims to be in the dark as much as anyone else. However, the former Manchester United defender remains open to being retained in June as the interim or an assistant coach.

O’Shea wants the manager’s job on a permanent basis, but he has been given no indication that will happen.

“The ideal scenario is that whoever was going to be the manager would be in by now,” said O’Shea, speaking during a Europa League final promotional event at the Aviva stadium. “Obviously that has not been the case for whatever reason.

“Hopefully when that person is announced it is straightforward and everyone gets behind them and we start trying to qualify for major tournaments again.

“Not everything in life can be straightforward and ideal, there is going to be twists and turns and this has proved to be the case.”

With Canham unavailable for comment, it was left to the 42-year-old to try to shed some light on the ongoing saga.

“I’d tell ya if I knew,” he said. “For me, in terms of yourselves, everyone is trying to have an educated guess - put two and two together, managers qualifying [for the Euros], managers not qualifying, this manager is out of work. I can’t help you.

“Marc has been saying they’re looking for someone with experience in the role,” O’Shea continued. “That’s something I obviously don’t have in terms of being actually a head coach, apart from the last two games and it was something I thoroughly enjoyed.”

O’Shea was asked if he could work under Chris Hughton or Gus Poyet, who have both been linked to the vacant position.

It just depends. I can’t answer that, I don’t know who it’s going to be. There have been some brilliant people who have been mentioned about it, different people who I’ve worked with before, and played alongside. It will be interesting to see what happens but for me it is a case of wait and see.”

The Hughton candidacy has grown fresh legs in the last 24 hours despite former Ireland manager Brian Kerr ruling out his former assistant coach back in February.

Poyet made O’Shea his captain at Sunderland but the Uruguayan did not make contact during his recent discussions with the FAI.

“No, not at all,” said O’Shea. “I’ve not been in touch with any people in the running. Not that I know of. Nobody has been in touch.”

Have you been told you will not be the next Ireland manager?


Have you been told you have a future role with the FAI?

Marc has always suggested that for me, but as I said, what happens in football, you don’t know. When a manager comes in I might get on great with him, or I might not get on great with him.”

O’Shea is not under contract to either the FAI or any club but he continues to attend matches in England, including Fleetwood Town versus Blackpool last week, a League One tie that featured four Irish players in CJ Hamilton, Bosun Lawal, Gavin Kilkenny and Promise Omochere.

Some levity was welcome during a 14 minute interview inside the FAI suite at the Aviva, with O’Shea thinking he heard “Carsley” when asked for further “clarity” on the Ireland manager’s job.

“Carso is happy with England’s 21s,” he joked. “Look, for me, the Irish men’s senior international team is such a crucial role in Irish society in terms of what you can do when you qualify for major tournaments and what you can bring to the country in terms of feelings around the world of Irish people, hopefully as it’s been shown that they are taking their time, they are doing the process, and we get the right man in the end.”

The plot thickened when O’Shea refused to confirm if Mick McCarthy linked up with the Ireland camp in March, although he did confirm that the former Irish manager stayed in team hotel in Castleknock while working as a pundit for Virgin Media.

Asked about the third coming of McCarthy, the Waterford native stayed silent.

The most interesting sight at the Aviva on Tuesday evening was a mock riot between fake hooligans and the Garda Public Order Unit, down the north end of the stadium, where English fans will be put when they visit on September 7th.

UEFA Europa League Trophy Tour Locations

Event: Dublin Europa Cup Date: Friday, April 20 Time: 12.30pm-4.30pm Location: Irishtown Stadium Event: St. Patrick’s Athletic v Waterford Date: Friday, April 20 Time: 6.30pm (for photos) Location: Richmond Park Event: General Public Photo Opportunity Date: Saturday, April 21 Time: 12.30pm-4pm Location: ILAC Shopping Centre

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent