After failing to get a single win in 2018, the Republic of Ireland have finally pulled the plug on Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane, with the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) announcing that the pair have been relieved of their duties as manager and assistant manager of the international side. O’Neill had signed a contract extension in January to stay on until 2020, but his abysmal record put paid to that.
Everton fans will be relieved considering the years of acrimony they had to put up with in dealing with the pair. Following a groin surgery in August of 2016 that caused him to miss weeks of action, James McCarthy was called up by Martin O’Neill for November internationals anyway. Ronald Koeman was enraged, and a war of words between the two incompetent managers ensued. Then, March 14, 2017, O’Neill selected McCarthy again for Irish duty despite the fact that everyone who had ever even heard of the midfielder knew he was not healthy. Sure enough, ten days later, McCarthy aggravated his hamstring during the pre-game warmups for a match against Wales.
The constant injuries have completely derailed McCarthy’s career. He has missed 75 games since the start of the 2016/2017 season from five different injuries, including the current leg fractures that have kept him out nearly a year. The fact that Martin O’Neill so callously contributed to the worsening of these injuries is something that should draw the ire of fans both from Everton and the FAI.
Never mind the fact that O’Neill was incredibly mediocre as a manager. Grouped with Denmark and Wales in the second tier of the UEFA League of nations, Ireland only managed to collect two points in four games, both from 0-0 draws with Denmark. Speaking of Denmark, it was a 5-1 dismantling by Denmark in the second leg of a playoff in Dublin of all places that kept Ireland from the World Cup last summer. Two losses this year against a mediocre Wales side that Ireland finished ahead of in World Cup qualifying has also certainly contributed to the ‘mutual departure’ as it is being called from this position.
This move by the FAI probably comes too late to help James McCarthy, but at least no other Irish players will be subjected to the whims of this madman with their health and careers on the line.