FAI chief executive John Delaney has defended sacked Ireland manager Martin O’Neill in the wake of recent criticism, describing some of his treatment by the media as “very unfair”.
While hailing Mick McCarthy and Stephen Kenny’s appointments today as “a hugely positive day for Irish football”, Delaney took the opportunity to stand up for O’Neill.
“Martin O’Neill did a terrific job for us and I think people have got to remember that. I’ve heard and read a lot of stuff that has been written over the last period (that was) very unfair.
"He got us to last 16 of the Euros, less than 12 months a (World Cup) play-off against Denmark and he blooded 10 or 13 players in the last 12 months. So he was a very good appointment for the Football Association of Ireland and blooding the players over the last 12 months will stand to Mick and Stephen into the future.”
Asked about the reputed hefty compensation that will be paid to O’Neill and Roy Keane for terminating their contracts, Delaney replied: “You can talk about expensive (but) whatever way you put it he was a good manager.
"He got us to a major tournament, he got us to the play-offs against Denmark. We were 60 minutes away from getting to a World Cup. We were beaten by France down in Lille 2-1 and France went onto the European final.
Delaney confirmed the FAI had been in discussions with Kenny “for quite a while” about coming on board as an international U21 manager. In their talks, Kenny revealed his interest in becoming the senior boss.
“We would have discussed with Stephen for quite a while about taking the Ireland U21 job and managing the under-age teams. He’s been an outstanding manager with Dundalk, the most successful manager in the League of Ireland over the last number of years, absolutely brilliant.
“In discussions with Stephen, he obviously made it clear he wants to manage the ‘A’ job and he’ll get that in 2020 and he’s happy to do so.
"He made that very clear to us. Mick is on a project to get us to 2020, Stephen straight in managing the U21s, managing the under-age teams which is hugely important as a support to Ruud (Dokter) and then after the Euros Stephen takes the ‘A’ job. That’s the plan, that’s the strategy.”