Mick McCarthy delighted to make Republic of Ireland return

FAI chief executive John Delaney and new Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy following a press conference at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin yesterday Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire
Brendan Crossan at the Aviva Stadium

WALKING away from a job he might deserve to keep beyond his fixed two-year term is a “luxury problem” that new Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy isn't thinking about.

Yesterday, McCarthy returned to the job he last held 16 years ago – but the former captain agreed with the FAI to hand the reins over to new U21 boss Stephen Kenny after Euro 2020.

Kenny, who will meet the media in Dublin today, was persuaded to succeed Noel King at U21 level with a view to taking the senior job in two years time.

It's doubtful Kenny would have come on board without the promise of a crack at the senior job.

McCarthy was keen to get back into management after stepping away from Ipswich Town at the end of last season, and was prepared to accept the unique conditions offered to him, as the FAI were keen to not allow Kenny to slip from their grasp.

The prospect of reaching the Euro 2020 finals, doing well with the Republic and then having to leave the job is something McCarthy has “accepted” in his own mind.

“I will be thrilled [to hand the team over], I really will,” he said.

“It will be tough, won't it? But that will be a luxury problem, if I have that problem in 2020 I will be thrilled with it and I am not thinking about it.”

McCarthy will be assisted by Ireland's record goal-scorer Robbie Keane – who approached McCarthy about joining his backroom team – and highly respected coach Terry Connor who he's worked alongside since 2008.

FAI chief executive John Delaney said there were no hidden clauses in McCarthy's contract and that the handover to Kenny in two years' time would happen.

“It shows the pathway, it shows the vision,” insisted Delaney.

“When Stephen comes in for the 21s he should have the right to know he will be the senior manager, so he has two years to learn the bits and pieces he needs to do about international football.

“Mick has come in knowing it's a project and a sole project to get to the Euros. That's two years.

“Then Stephen comes in in 2020 and takes it over, having got himself immersed in international football, managing the U21s, working with all the underage players and learning about international football, from Mick especially.”

Delaney added: “I'm delighted Stephen has agreed to take on this role, absolutely thrilled.

“We were hours together yesterday and I'll tell you what, he is a top man, top football man, he's a good manager, has great drive and passion for it.

“And Mick, having captained Ireland to a World Cup has also managed Ireland to a World Cup. He wants to get us to the Euros so we've got a lot of energy, a lot of drive for the next step forward in Irish football.”

Delaney also revealed the decision to sack Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane after five years in charge was taken by the board the day before Ireland's scoreless draw with Denmark in Aarhus.

“I think Martin would accept that the football was poor enough, of recent [times], and the attendances were also dropping. That's a concern.”

Meanwhile, McCarthy is hoping to net the services of Declan Rice as the West Ham player considers whether to declare for the Republic or England despite having played three senior friendly games for

the Irish. The new manager has already held talks with the player's father.

Asked how he's changed since he last held the Ireland managerial post 16 years ago, McCarthy said: “I've a bit more perspective on life. I've three grandkids – that's helped. I've had three jobs since I've left. I'm certainly a bit more thoughtful, a bit calmer. But you can judge that in March.”

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