Colin Bell extends contract as Ireland manager until 2021

Women’s coach could be the first to lead Ireland to a major championship

Colin Bell has been rewarded for the strong start made by the Irish women's team's strong start to its World Cup campaign with a contract extension that will now keep the Englishman at the helm up until the end of the side's involvement in the 2021 European Championships.

The team has performance strongly over Bell's first year in charge with friendly wins over the likes of Wales, Iceland and most recently Portugal with Katie McCabe, Leanne Kiernan and Louise Quinn all scoring in a 3-1 win 10 days ago.

More significantly, however, Ireland are unbeaten after three games of their World Cup qualifying group campaign with wins against Northern Ireland and Slovakia followed by a resilient display away to European Champions, the Netherlands, where the team secured a scoreless draw.

Ireland have home games against the Slovaks and Dutch coming up in April before two games in four days against Norway at the start of the summer but his employers have clearly decided that the 56-year-old, who also taken on a significant part in the development of female players and already brought quite a few new faces into the senior set up, has done enough to tie down fopr an extended period.

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“I’m incredibly proud of the progress the team has made over the last 11 months,” he says. “We’ve achieved some fantastic results so far (while) in my role as Head Coach of the Women’s Under-17s side, I’ve been incredibly impressed and excited by the amount of talent in Ireland.

"We've recently seen the likes of Tyler Toland, Amy Boyle-Carr, Zara Foley and Eabha O'Mahony receive call-ups to the senior squad and that shows my commitment to progressing the talent we have in this country. I'm extremely excited about the future for the Women's National Team and I'd like to thank all of the players, staff and the FAI for their support during my time in Ireland so far."

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Industry and Employment Correspondent at The Irish Times