O’Neill looks set to stay in Irish role

All the signs are that Martin O’Neill is staying on as manager of Ireland.

Official confirmation has not been forthcoming, however, as the Derry man declined to comment on this week’s reports linking him to the Stoke City manager’s job when he attended the SSE Airticity/Soccer Writers of Ireland annual awards banquet in Dublin last night.

The FAI were also making no comment so there was no further clarity about if and when the verbal agreement with O’Neill to stay on — announced as far back as October — would be officially signed and sealed.

Roy Keane and the rest of Ireland’s training staff — Steve Guppy, Steve Walford, and Seamus McDonagh — joined O’Neill at the black-tie event in the Conrad Hotel.

As they arrived, reporters were told O’Neill would not be talking to media and simply wanted to enjoy the evening.

Confirmation the management team would be attending the event was conveyed to the SWAI yesterday morning and was the first indication it was back to ‘business as usual’ following this week’s headlines.

O’Neill was believed to be a strong contender for the job of successor to Mark Hughes as Stoke manager before Espanyol boss Quique Sanchez Flores emerged as the club’s number one target.

Flores is on the verge of taking the deal with the Potters expected to pay Espanyol €4m in compensation.

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