John O’Shea plans to make a fist of his time in charge of Ireland

“We always knew that, at some point, if we got to a certain point there would be an interim structure in place” FAI Director of Football Marc Canham

John O’Shea is not expected to be considered for the full-time post
Republic of Ireland Press Conference – Aviva Stadium – Monday March 4th John O’Shea is not expected to be considered for the full-time post (Niall Carson/PA)

From Brendan Crossan in Dublin

STANDING six foot and three inches tall, John O’Shea didn’t exactly grow in stature as we might have expected at his unveiling as Republic of Ireland’s interim manager in the Aviva Stadium yesterday because the FAI virtually killed any prospect of him becoming the chosen one beyond this month’s friendly games against Belgium and Switzerland.

The FAI’s Director of Football Marc Canham spoke of “contractual obligations” preventing him from naming the next permanent manager – and by default O’Shea didn’t seem to be in the frame, no matter how well his Ireland team performs later this month.

“We’re really near to the end of the process and that’s confidential,” said Canham, who accompanied O’Shea to yesterday’s briefing.

“So, I can’t answer the question directly, unfortunately, but we are really at the advanced stage of the process. For different practical reasons, including contracts, we can’t confirm that until early April.”

Lee Carsley – regarded as one of the FAI’s preferred candidates – could still be in the frame as it had been reported the former Ireland midfielder wanted to be in charge of England U21s next two games on March 22 and March 26 before he could formally accept the Ireland post.

It’s over 100 days since Stephen Kenny’s contract as senior international manager was not renewed.

In a later briefing with daily newspaper reporters, Canham insisted speed was never a priority in finding Ireland’s next manager.

“We had a clear process and road map of how we wanted to do this,” he said.

“We always knew that, at some point, if we got to a certain point there would be an interim structure in place.

“We said previously that we had hoped to have that in place for the [Uefa Nations League] draw, in terms of the permanent solution. That wasn’t possible so it was always part of our thinking that maybe an interim solution would be needed because speed wasn’t a measure of success for this process.

“It was more about looking at what we want to achieve, who do we want to get that meets that profile, and being really clear and sticking to our principles, even if it takes a little bit longer.”

O’Shea was asked a couple of times did he want the Ireland gig on a permanent basis, he said: “Let’s hope that takes care of itself, but ultimately for me, I’m focused on these two games and we’ll see what happens then.”

Brian Kerr has been a strong critic of Stephen Kenny
Brian Kerr has been a strong critic of Stephen Kenny Brian Kerr is back in the FAI fold for this month

O’Shea could, however, be part of the next regime as assistant manager.

In terms of his squad selection for the March 23 and March 26 friendlies, the 118-times capped Ireland defender said he planned to speak with veteran defender Seamus Coleman about resuming his international playing career.

Coleman (35) returned to club action in December after a seven-month injury lay-off and is currently on the Everton bench.

O’Shea said: “I haven’t been speaking to anyone because I wanted to get the press conference out of the way but, of course, I’ll be speaking to Seamus, with his experience, as well as the young blood which will be very important for these two games.”

Brian Kerr and Glenn Whelan are two key men in O’Shea’s backroom team over the course of the two friendlies, with Canham not ruling out a role in Irish football for the wily Kerr.

“In terms of Brian’s role moving forwards, we absolutely need to make sure we’re engaging with people around the game and Brian is a key part of that.

“He has had a long history in the game, a really good background, a really good pedigree and we need to be engaging with people like Brian.

“I’ve personally been in this role for 18 months and I’ve met him on two or three occasions to get his views on things and I think we need to make sure we do that with Brian and of course other people in the game – ex-players or coaches who are currently working in the game or currently working elsewhere just to make sure we’ve that engagement.

“So I can’t exactly confirm what it’ll look like for Brian moving forward but we want to keep that healthy conversation and engagement moving forward which I think is a real positive.”