O’Neill and Keane partnership to be confirmed early this week

Although a deal had still not been signed off as of last night, the FAI are entirely happy that Martin O’Neill will be unveiled as the manager of the Republic of Ireland this week.

While it’s believed the FAI would ideally like to be able to confirm the appointment before the Derryman and his assistant Roy Keane appear together on television tomorrow night as fellow panellists in ITV’s coverage of Manchester United’s game against Real Sociedad in the Champions League, they may have to wait until the pair return from Spain before the agreement can finally be confirmed.

However, sources insist that there are no fears of any last minute hiccups and have dismissed concerns that a possibly imminent change in management at either Fulham or Norwich could prompt O’Neill to change his mind.

It has also emerged that, at the outset of the search for a successor to Giovanni Trapattoni, the FAI Board agreed that they would not need to meet to ratify O’Neill’s appointment, since he was always regarded as the number one target.

Consequently, the Board is not now expected to meet this week, although it’s believed a number of members did gather to discuss the situation informally at the Aviva Stadium following yesterday’s FAI Cup Final.

After they are unveiled, O’Neill and Keane will have to hit the ground running, with the Ireland squad for the friendlies against Latvia and Poland due to assemble next Sunday in Dublin and the first training session scheduled to take place the following day.

Reports suggest O’Neill has agreed to take on the job on an initial two-year deal, worth something in the region of €1.3 million a year, with Keane on €700,000.

There would also be significant bonuses — adding up to as much as €800,000 — attached to qualification for the European Championship finals in France in 2016.

As well as Keane, O’Neill’s backroom staff is expected to include his long time football associate Steve Walford and former Irish international Seamus McDonagh who looks set to replace Alan Kelly as goalkeeping coach.

Meanwhile, Mike McGurn is set to be announced as the FAI’s new fitness and conditioning coach.

McGurn previously worked with the Irish rugby team, the Armagh and Louth Gaelic football teams and boxer Bernard Dunne.


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