From Croker to Lansdowne for O’Neill

Martin O’Neill has revealed his pride at the journey he’s taken from Croke Park in 1958 to his latest project of leading the Republic of Ireland football team.

The new Ireland boss was only a child when he visited Gaelic headquarters with his mother Greta to watch his brother’s Derry side lose narrowly to Dublin in the All-Ireland final.

He’s back in Dublin this week, preparing the Ireland team for Friday night’s friendly against Latvia.

Reflecting on his background, particularly his upbringing in Kilrea, County Derry, the 61-year-old was steeped in traditional Irish values.

“My father (Leo) was one of the founders of the local Gaelic team (Padraig Pearse) in Kilrea,” he said. “But, interestingly, he had a faded colour picture of the Manchester United Busby Babes in his (barber’s) shop window.

“In terms of growing up in a Gaelic background, I loved it. Two of my brothers played for Derry, one of whom at the tender age of 18 helped them beat Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final. I went to final with my mother at six year of age.

“All of those great memories will never to be lost. Moving on now to become manager of Republic of Ireland now has been a bit of a journey — but one that I’m delighted to have made.”

Meanwhile, O’Neill has admitted it will take some time for the “stir” surrounding Keane’s addition to the management ticket to stabilise.

“Roy’s appointment has certainly added a lot of interest but that wasn’t the reason for doing it,” O’Neill told BBC.

“I knew it would cause a stir to begin with. But when everything settles down, I expect Roy to be able to the job that I think he is capable of doing.”


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