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Marc Canham (left) with John O'Shea. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
new boss

FAI hint they have their next head coach with contractual reasons delaying announcement to April

John O’Shea was unveiled as interim head coach today.

THE IDENTITY OF Stephen Kenny’s permanent successor remains shrouded in mystery, but the FAI appear to have their candidate. 

Director of football Marc Canham told a press conference today that the FAI will announce the new head coach in early April, as that candidate’s contractual status precludes an announcement prior to then. 

“The process of the appointment of the permanent new head coach is very close to the end, nearing the end-point, and we look forward to announcing that new permanent head coach in early-April”, said Canham.

“Existing contractual obligations mean we are not in a position to announce any further details on this point, but as we have committed to, we will announce that in early April.”

Sources close to Slaven Bilic poured cold water on recent reports that he was in line for the role, saying the former Croatian boss has received no contact form the FAI.

An early April announcement does theoretically clear the way for Lee Carsley to take the job after the England U21s finish their qualifiers this March, though his contractual status with the FA is no different than it was at any point throughout this protracted search process.

Sources close to Carsley have not given any indication as to whether he wants the job at this time, having been the prime candidate since Stephen Kenny left the building last November. 

Canham’s comments also suggest John O’Shea is not a candidate for the permanent gig, as he will take interim charge of the friendly double header with Belgium and Switzerland at the end of the month. 

Canham was speaking alongside O’Shea at a press conference to unveil his short-term reign. 

“My focus only is on these two games, Belgium and Switzerland”, said O’Shea.

“What an amazing honour to get a chance to manage my country. When I got the message from Marc just over a week ago, an amazing feeling.”

O’Shea said he was open to remaining on the staff under the next permanent boss,  having been part of Stephen Kenny’s backroom team for the Euro 2024 qualifiers. 

“That’s something for further down the line”, said O’Shea, “but at the minute I’ve been given a chance to lead the team for the friendlies against Belgium and Switzerland. Going forward, who knows?

“I have spoken to Marc about this before. When management changes or things happen, everyone has their own ideas, head coaches have their own ideas etc. As always I’m up for the conversation but that is stuff for further down the line.” 

O’Shea has quickly built a backroom staff, doing so with Canham. Paddy McCarthy of Crystal Palace has been drafted in as his assistant, with Glenn Whelan added to the staff, too.

Rene Gilmartin steps up from the U21s as goalkeeper coach, while Stephen Rice (opposition analyst) and Damien Doyle (head of performance) continue the roles they performed under Kenny. 

Brian Kerr, meanwhile, has been brought back to the FAI after a 19-year absence, and will serve as technical advisor. O’Shea revealed Kerr’s return was initially proposed by Canham. 

“I spoke to Marc and obviously we were bouncing ideas around about staff, different things, procedures and names were coming up”, said O’Shea. 

“When I heard Brian’s name, I was like, yes, that sounds right to me, because I know, having spoken to him, his enthusiasm. Not only that, his knowledge will be invaluable to not only the coaching staff, but the players as well.

“Obviously he has been in constant contact as well, quite recently too. I can’t wait for the players to get to know his knowledge too and to see what he is all about in terms of preparation for a game and the reaction he gets from people too. I know he will be a big boost for everyone involved.”

Written by Gavin Cooney. The Journal publishes the biggest breaking news in Irish and international sport but for all of The 42′s insightful analysis and sharp sportswriting, subscribe here.

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