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Nov 9, 2013

O'Neill attracted by managerial legacy

Martin O’Neill is concerned that he will struggle with the lengthy period of inactivity after stepping into his first international management job with the Republic of Ireland.

New Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is unveiled.
New Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is unveiled.

• O'Neill confident in Keane

The former Northern Ireland captain turned in a hugely impressive performance as he was unveiled as the new manager of the Republic’s national team at a Dublin press conference on Saturday spelling out his ambitions for the initial two-year contract he has signed.

"My concern of course is the very obvious one that you don’t work with players on a day to day basis," O’Neill said. "Also when you lose a football match at club level, you generally have an opportunity to put it right the following week. I’m not sure what I will be like if I have three months to think about it.

"All of those things were considerations, but the more I thought about it, I thought about the great managers who have been here. Jack Charlton started it all, Mick McCarthy followed, Giovanni Trapattoni was very successful and when I thought about it all, I felt this opportunity might not come my way again.

"So that is why I am delighted to be here. I wish there were some more competitive games on the horizon, but that is the nature of the business. My remit is to get Ireland to the European Championship finals and that is my driving ambition."

O’Neill confirmed he has no clauses inserted into his Republic of Ireland contract that would allow him to leave for a Premier League job, while he also dismissed suggestions that his passion for the game was sapped by the disappointing conclusion to his spell as Sunderland manager earlier this year,

"I have dealt with pressure all my life and I have been given an opportunity here that I am determined to try and grasp. I’ve never lost my energy, never lost my enthusiasm and that keeps me going," he continued.

"There is absolutely no clauses in this for a Premier League club. I am absolutely committed to this job and very much looking forward to it."

Giovanni Trapattoni was criticised for his reluctance to attend games featuring his potential players and infuriated many in Ireland when he repeatedly suggested the country 'did not have it’s own domestic league', even though that was factually incorrect.

O’Neill appears eager to take on an alternative approach, as he made a pledged to look to the future of the Irish game with open eyes alongside his new high profile assistant Roy Keane.

"We want to get to as many matches as possible and that is not a problem for Roy as he goes to games anyway," O’Neill added. "We want to see the players, watch the players as often as possible. We will have the time and opportunity to watch players closely.

"I will be judged on whether or not I qualify the team for Euro 2016, but if I can help the development of Irish football in any way, I’d be delighted to do that.

"I’m told there are a lot of very talented 16-year-olds coming through, but that is a fat lot of use to me when I am on a two-year contract here. Still, I’m looking forward to coming over to watch games in Ireland. It would get me out of the house if nothing else."

O’Neill’s press conference ended with a rousing round of applause from the assembled media, with the goodwill evident for all who were present.

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