‘If there is no news, tell us’: John O’Shea calls for an FAI update on managerial search

Interim Republic of Ireland boss says it is important that everyone knows what is happening as quickly as possible

John O'Shea with Seamus Coleman following the defeat to Portugal in the international friendly at the Aveiro Municipal Stadium, Portugal. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

John O’Shea has called on FAI director of football Marc Canham to provide immediate clarity around the search for a Republic of Ireland manager.

O’Shea completed four matches as interim head coach with a 3-0 loss to Portugal in Aveiro on Tuesday evening. Last March, Ireland drew 0-0 with Belgium and lost 1-0 to Switzerland, before a 2-1 win over Hungary was secured in Dublin last week thanks to Troy Parrott’s late goal.

All four opponents were preparing for the European Championships in Germany, which begin on Friday when the hosts play Scotland in Munich.

“We will see what happens over the next few days,” said O’Shea. “Obviously, for everyone going forward, it is important that everyone knows what is happening as quickly as possible.


“But also, if there is no news, [the FAI need] to tell [us] that there is no news. I know everyone wants the answer, let’s wait and see.”

O’Shea will go to the Euros in Germany to take in “three or four games” but it remains unclear if he is travelling as an FAI employee, to scout England ahead of the Nations League opener in Dublin on September 7th.

However, with preseason about to start at clubs in the EFL Championship, where most Irish players are based, O’Shea could miss out on a coaching job, potentially working for Wayne Rooney at Plymouth Argyle, if Canham continues to delay over announcing a replacement for Stephen Kenny.

It has been almost seven months since Kenny’s contract was not renewed by the FAI.

“It is one of them where you have to respect the situation,” said O’Shea. “When you want to get into management, there could be opportunities. I’ve been senior international manager for four games. Obviously, we talk about whetting the appetite.”

Burnley defender Dara O’Shea wants the current Irish management, which includes Crystal Palace assistant coach Paddy McCarthy, to be retained for the upcoming Nations League campaign.

“Right now, there is a lot of uncertainty around Irish football, and what way it’s going, with who’s in charge,” he said. “John, as a manager, has been amazing. I think there’s a lot of good things we’re working on. The result against Hungary was great for us.”

Georgia coach Willy Sagnol is reportedly the FAI’s primary target. With the French man unavailable until after the Euros, defender O’Shea expressed concern about a new Ireland manager finding his feet before England visit the Aviva Stadium.

International Friendly, Aveiro Municipal Stadium, Portugal 11/6/2024 Portugal vs Republic of Ireland Dara O'Shea of Ireland Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

“There’s been a lot of work put in by John and the staff so to go into the Nations League with a new manager is going to be difficult for the group, having to learn a lot of new ideas so quickly. But, as football players, we know these things happen and we know we’ve got to crack on to that and deal with whatever is put on our plate.”

There are some positives happening below the level of the Irish senior squad, specifically Jim Crawford’s under-21s beating Croatia before drawing 2-2 with the England under-20s in June friendlies.

Crawford’s 25-man squad had 18 players who featured for English clubs last season with Mark O’Mahony making his Premier League debut at Brighton. The other seven are spread across clubs in Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Glasgow Celtic, while Shamrock Rovers midfielder Conan Noonan was the solitary League of Ireland representative.

John O’Shea has a clear message for the under-21s: find a way into the Premier League. It is established that Ireland cannot make progress with most of its players at Championship clubs as the 46-game season ends a month before the June international window.

“We need more players playing in the Premier League so they go later in the season,” said O’Shea. “It comes down to a personal sacrifice to know you’ve got games coming up, whether that be friendlies or whatever, that’s the dedication you’ve got to show to play for your country.”

For 20 years there has been a steady decline of Irish players playing in the English top flight, and those who do make it tend to be embroiled in relegation battles.

O’Shea and Josh Cullen at Burnley, John Egan and the promising Sam Curtis at Sheffield United, and Chiedozie Ogbene’s Luton Town will drop down a level for the 2024/25 season. Only Leicester City’s Tom Cannon, who made his debut against Portugal, along with Southampton pair Gavin Bazunu and Will Smallbone, were promoted from the Championship.

“You have to challenge that,” said O’Shea. “It’s a constant evolvement. When a player goes to a club they have to sacrifice so much. If they’re not sacrificing, because [English clubs’] player recruitment is all over the world now, to make those details in your favour, you’re not going to be in the Premier League.”

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent