Martin O’Neill leaves Ireland soccer job ‘with a heavy heart’

Photo: Laura Hutton/

Manager Martin O’Neill and his assistant Roy Keane have by mutual agreement parted company with the Republic of Ireland national football team.

The pair took over the reins in 2013 and guided the Republic to the last 16 of the 2016 European Championships.

However, they are yet to win a competitive game in 2018 and were relegated from Uefa Nations League Group B4 and have come under increased pressure in recent weeks.

The decision came after a meeting last night in the UK between the association chief executive John Delaney and manager O’Neill.

The FAI confirmed the board will meet to discuss the process of recruiting a new manager. Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny, former Republic boss Mick McCarthy and Steve Bruce have all been mentioned as potential successors.

“I thank Martin, Roy, and the management team for the impact they had,” said Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chief John Delaney.

“There have been many highlights during Martin’s reign – none more so than Euro 2016 in France, which will live long in the memory of all Irish supporters.”

O’Neill, who leaves alongside his backroom team of Keane, Steve Guppy and goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh, signed a contract extension in January to remain as manager until 2020.

After their World Cup 2018 qualification hopes ended in a humiliating 5-1 home defeat by Denmark, the Republic’s inaugural Nations League campaign was plagued by poor results and a string of off-field incidents.

Ireland rounded out their 2018 campaign with a 0-0 Nations League draw away to Denmark last week.

In a statement Martin O’Neill said:

“I have had the great honour of managing the Republic of Ireland National football team for the past five years and it is with a heavy heart that I leave this role.

“It was one of my lifetime ambitions to take charge of the Irish Senior squad and I would like to thank the FAI Board for giving me that opportunity.

“I will not forget the night in Lille when we beat Italy to secure the nation’s best ever achievement in the Euros competition, the terrific night we beat the World Champions Germany at home in Dublin, or James McClean’s goal in that euphoric win against Wales in Cardiff that put us through to the play-offs for this year’s World Cup.

“The Irish fans have been a source of motivation to myself, the team and the whole backroom staff, embodying the passionate Irish spirit, and I thank them for their fervent support of the team.

“I am also very proud of the relationships I have built with the players, who have carried that very same spirit, imbued by the fans, onto the field of play.

“A special thanks to Roy Keane my assistant, an inspirational figure in the world of football, Seamus McDonagh, Steve Guppy and Steve Walford for their brilliant contributions and to those backroom staff at the FAI that were of enormous help to me.

“Knowing that the past year would be a transitional phase for the squad, I have capped twelve new players in the last nine games, with the aim that they become significant international contributors in the coming campaign.

“To the players, I reserve great praise and admiration for the phenomenal commitment they have shown whilst wearing the Irish shirt.

“Having had these great experiences in my spell as the Irish international manager, I am looking forward to my next adventure in football.”

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