O’Neill open to extending Ireland manager tenure

Martin O’Neill has admitted he would be open to extending his contract as Republic of Ireland manager.
Martin ONeill is looking to hold contract talks with FAI. Picture: PAMartin ONeill is looking to hold contract talks with FAI. Picture: PA
Martin ONeill is looking to hold contract talks with FAI. Picture: PA

The 63-year-old is understood to have been offered an extension to the two-year deal he signed in November 2013 regardless of whether he steers the nation to the Euro 2016 finals via a play-off double-header against Bosnia-Herzegovina over the next few days.

O’Neill confirmed the Football Association of Ireland wanted him to stay, and that he was happy to talk to chief executive John Delaney about it.

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He said: “Absolutely, I am open to it. We had a conversation after Scotland and John was very supportive, felt as if this is the way we want to go forward, and that was very pleasing to hear.

“We haven’t really talked about it since, but I haven’t been pressing because there are actually very important things to deal with. If we could qualify, that would be great and we’d go on to France – I’d be delighted to do that if that’s the case. But if we didn’t qualify, John and myself will sit down and see where we go. I think John and the board would want it to continue and I have enjoyed it immensely. Sometime in the new year –probably the earlier, the better, maybe get Christmas out of the way – John and I would sit and have a discussion about it.”

Skipper Robbie Keane insisted it would be “silly” for O’Neill’s services not to be retained, with he and assistant Roy Keane having overseen a campaign which could yet pay tangible dividends for the efforts over the last two years.

The LA Galaxy striker said: “From the very, very start of the campaign, certainly as a group we have grown into it a lot more. It would be silly if the manager didn’t get a new contract – he has obviously done a great job.

“But we certainly want to finish this campaign off now with qualification for France, because we started the campaign off having that goal in our minds and it would certainly be disappointing if we didn’t do it.”

The Republic face Bosnia in Zenica tomorrow evening and then again in Dublin three days later. Having rekindled their qualification hopes with a shock victory over world champions Germany last month, defeat in Poland saw an automatic berth snatched from their grasp.