Kerr deeply saddened at decision

AFTER 33 games in 33 months, Brian Kerr’s career as manager of the Republic of Ireland officially came to a halt last night, when FAI chief John Delaney announced that the search for a new Irish manager would begin today.

In a statement issued soon afterwards, Brian Kerr described the decision as “short-sighted and contrary to the much-vaunted principles of the Genesis Report.”

He said that he was “deeply saddened” that his nine years’ working for the FAI were at an end, and while indicating that he would take time out to consider his next move, affirmed his intention to stay in professional football.

He thanked all 45 players who had played under him for the Republic and the fans for their fantastic support.

By the time John Delaney faced the media at 9.30 last night, Brian Kerr had been informed of the decision via a pre-arranged telephone call from another senior FAI official to Kerr’s agent Fintan Drury.

The FAI CEO said that it was his intention to speak personally with Kerr - and his assistant Chris Hughton - over the next couple of days.

According to Delaney, no vote was taken at the meeting but there was a “consensus” among the ten Board members that a change at the top was required after Ireland’s failure to qualify for the World Cup next Summer had seen them slip down the rankings and also go into the next European Championship qualifying campaign as fourth seeds.

Those were the key issues, said Delaney, which saw the Board arrive at their decision not to offer Brian Kerr a new contract.

A three-man sub-committee of John Delaney, President David Blood and Secretary Michael Cody - the same triumvirate which had reported to last night’s meeting on the implications of the World Cup exit - has now been charged with the task of beginning the process which will see a new man installed in the job.

But with the Republic not facing competitive action until next August at the earliest, Delaney said that this “window of opportunity” meant that the FAI would not be rushed into a hasty decision.

“It’s important we make the correct appointment as opposed to simply getting someone in a short period of time,” he said.

Delaney declined to be drawn into any speculation about potential successors to Brian Kerr but did say that the FAI did not plan to use a go-between in their search, as they did last time around with Bryan Hamilton.

Although Chris Hughton, like Brian Kerr, is no longer an employee of the FAI, Packie Bonner and Noel O’ Reilly - who were goalkeeper coach and senior team coach alongside Kerr - continue to have roles in the Association as Technical Director and Regional Development Officer/Under-18 coach respectively.

However O’Reilly has soldiered so long at Brian Kerr’s shoulder, it remains to be seen how he reacts to the news of the latter’s departure as manager.

Added Delaney: “The Board fully recognises the dedication and passion applied by Brian and his support team in their quest to gain qualification for the major Championships,” he said.

But commenting on the implications of failure to qualify, the CEO went on: “The downward trend in our rankings and seedings has been very disappointing and will make qualification for future tournaments considerably more difficult and that has knock-on consequences for the development of the game.”

He added: “We now have more people taking part in football than any other team sport but to further develop the game, success on the international scene is an important catalyst.”

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