On Wednesday morning the FAI announced that Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane would be stepping away from their roles at the helm of the Irish national team.
O’Neill and Keane have been in charge of the Boys in Green since 2013 and successfully lead Ireland to the last 16 of the 2016 European Championships in France.
Their relationship with the fans turned sour however following Ireland’s recent poor run of form which saw them relegated from League B of the Nations League and pick up only one win in the whole of 2018.
One man who was a key figure in Ireland’s success under O’Neill was Stoke City winger James McClean, who became a crucial member of the Irish starting XI scoring huge match-winning goals in both Vienna and Cardiff.
Following O’Neill’s departure, McClean took to Instagram to pay tribute to his now former manager, rattling off his list of achievements in a heartfelt post.
There’s no question that O’Neill’s rein in charge of Ireland will be looked upon as a success, qualification for a major tournament and beating the like of Germany and Italy will always guarantee that, but the timing was certainly correct for the former Celtic and Aston Villa boss’ departure.
Another key man in Ireland’s successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign was striker Jon Walters who famously scored twice against Bosnia in the playoffs to secure Ireland’s place in France.
Walters mentioned that despite his exit and poor run of recent form, he would still have been confident in O’Neill leading Ireland to the European Championships in 2020.
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I didn’t expect Martin to leave as manager. Although we’ve had a very difficult year in terms of results, I’ll balance that with the amount of players that have just started their international career. I would’ve been very confident in qualifying under Martin and still am with the group of players we have. On a personal note I have the upmost respect for Martin as he is and always has been fantastic for me 🇮🇪
With O’Neill and Keane gone, attention now turns to their replacement. It is important for the Irish setup going forward that John Delaney and the FAI appoint the right man in what appears to be a crossroads for the international team.