FAI ‘rightly criticised for setting out timelines’ in new manager search says interim CEO

David Courell reiterates that the association is committed to hiring a replacement for Stephen Kenny before September’s Nations League campaign

FAI interim chief executive David Courell was “air gapped” from the recruitment process to find a replacement for Stephen Kenny as Republic of Ireland manager until his predecessor Jonathan Hill left the association last month.

“First and foremost, up until a matter of weeks ago, I myself was air-gapped from the process which I think is testament to how professionally it has been run,” Courell told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

“It has been a confidential process both internally and externally. But now that I’m in the camp, I’m fully read in and I’m comfortable with the steps and stages which has taken place and confident we will get the best candidate for moving the Irish national team forward and ensure we deliver success.”

Courell, the FAI’s chief operating officer since 2022, replaced Hill on April 15th. Previously, the six month search for Kenny’s successor was led by director of football Marc Canham, Packie Bonner and Hill.


“Well, we’ve been rightly criticised for setting out timelines in recent months,” said Courell. “We are committed to ensuring we have someone in the post when we commence our Uefa Nations League competition.”

Ireland open their Nations League campaign against England in Dublin on September 7th.

John O’Shea was named interim Irish manager for March friendlies in Dublin against Belgium (0-0) and Switzerland (0-1). The former Manchester United defender will also take the squad for games against Hungary and Portugal next month even though he was not previously considered for an interview by Canham.

When asked if O’Shea was in contention to be retained on a longer contract, Courell responded: “It is an open process. Every candidate is being considered. John has done a fantastic job and we’re looking forward to what he can do in the upcoming fixtures. He is an unbelievable ambassador for the game, a fantastic servant for Irish football, so we wish him the best of luck for June and see what transpires in the rest of the recruitment process.”

Canham previously stated that a new Ireland manager would be unveiled in “early April” with the delay due to “existing contractual obligations.” The FAI have yet to explain the meaning of this statement.

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent