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28th Mar 2024

FAI chiefs reportedly met with Roy Keane three times over Ireland job

Niall McIntyre

Roy Keane has spectacularly emerged as a new candidate for the Republic of Ireland job.

As the saga of the Republic of Ireland’s wait for a new manager continues, it has emerged that, over the last couple of months, FAI chiefs have met with the Cork-man three times over the vacancy.

John O’Shea took over the team as interim manager for two international friendlies against Belgium and Switzerland respectively over the last week, drawing 0-0 with the former and losing 1-0 to the latter.

There had been some clamour for the Waterford man to be given the job on a full-time basis but this appears to be a non-runner despite O’Shea’s eagerness to take the job.

Speaking to Virgin Media on Tuesday night, having been a part of O’Shea’s coaching staff for the two games, Brian Kerr stated that he didn’t believe O’Shea would get the job.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – JULY 02: Sky TV presenter Roy Keane before the Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool FC at Etihad Stadium on July 2, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Visionhaus)

“I don’t know what the exact position is but I understand that the FAI have somebody else lined up and unless I hear otherwise, that’s what I’m taking as the situation,” said Kerr definitively.

A Thursday morning report in the Irish Examiner lends to the possibility that the person in question could be Keane, the most recognisable name in Irish football.

All through this long drawn out process, the FAI have maintained that everything is going to plan, that ‘the process to appoint our senior men’s team head coach will now be finalised, led by the CEO (Jonathan Hill) and director of football (Canham), with an announcement planned in April.”

They said that the delay in the announcement was on the back of unspecified “existing contractual obligations.”

Aside from O’Shea, a whole host of names have been linked with the top job as the search turned into something of a wild goose chase from the outside looking in. First, Lee Carsley appeared to be the chosen one until he ruled himself out. Then there was Gus Poyet, Slaven Bilic and even Roberto Di Matteo.

Now, Keane becomes one of the front-runners with the Examiner’s report stating that FAI’s headhunting team of Hill, Canham, Packie Bonner as well as other board members have held discussions with him about the role three times over the last month.

Keane served as Ireland and Manchester United captain during a legendary playing career. He worked under Martin O’Neill as Ireland’s assistant manager between 2013 and 2018, and re-united with O’Neill to work as the Nottingham Forest assistant manager in 2019.

He hasn’t been involved in management since, turning down Sunderland in 2021, as he continued to work as a pundit with the likes of Sky Sports and ITV. It was on Sky Sports’ Stick to Football podcast recently, where he signalled that he would be open to taking the Ireland job.

“Yeah, international football – I enjoyed it when I was a coach for a while,” Keane said. “I like the dynamics of it, where you’re not in every day, and it’s not about bringing players in and I suppose dealing with the board every week or the academy.

“Yeah, that does appeal. I did like the dynamics when I was coaching with Martin with the Irish team. We had a little bit of success, and when you’ve had a little bit of success, then it’s brilliant, and obviously there are disappointments. So, yeah, that could be an option.”

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