O’Neill and Keane sign new deals

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has confirmed that he has signed a new contract with the FAI that will take his tenure up to the end of the World Cup 2018 campaign.

O’Neill had previously stated that the contract was agreed but today was the first official announcement that the deal was completed.

Assistant manger Roy Keane and the rest of the backroom staff have also agreed new deals.

“I have signed a new deal,” said O’Neill at the announcement of his squad to play Georgia and Moldova next month.

“It was never an issue. Roy and the backroom staff have followed suit. We’re delighted.”

Asked if there was any specific reason for the delay in signing on the dotted line, O’Neill said: “No reason whatsoever.”

“In terms of my time at football clubs, I’ve had four or five years at clubs and usually when I say it will happen it will happen.

“I might not sound it, but I think John [Delaney, FAI chief executive] was pretty comfortable when we shook hands on the deal so there was no major reason or stumbling block.

“Nothing has changed since we agreed on the deal, so it wasn’t a matter of fumbling around and looking for something else.

“It wasn’t a matter of changing the contract – that remained exactly the same.

“If something happened to me in terms of health or something like that then you end up not having a contract.

“In terms of agreeing with someone and shaking hands on it, which we did before the Euros, I’ve no reason to change.

“Who knows what happens in life? Ireland’s best chance of qualification for the World Cup in Russia, and I think I’ve proved it, lies with myself and Roy Keane.

“It’s done and dusted now so we’ll go forward from here.”

The odd couple: O’Neill and Keane.

O’Neill guided the Republic to successful qualification for Euro 2016, where they memorably defeated Italy before losing to hosts France in the round-of-16. Ireland are now trying to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and made a promising start, drawing 2-2 in Serbia earlier this month.

The Boys in Green will play host to Georgia on October 6 before taking on Moldova in Chisinau the following Sunday.

The panel for the upcoming clashes includes first-time call-ups for Falkirk goalkeeper Danny Rogers and Barnsley midfielder Conor Hourihane. The ex-Celtic manager also recalled striker Kevin Doyle in a provisional 33-man squad for the World Cup qualifiers.

Everton midfielder James McCarthy, who is currently working his way back to fitness after undergoing groin surgery, has also been named in the squad.

Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph, Keiren Westwood, Danny Rogers.

Defenders: Seamus Coleman, Cyrus Christie, Richard Keogh, Alex Pearce, Paul McShane, John O’Shea, Shane Duffy, Ciaran Clark, Marc Wilson, Stephen Ward.

Midfielders: Aiden McGeady, James McClean, Glenn Whelan, James McCarthy, Jeff Hendrick, Stephen Quinn, David Meyler, Conor Hourihane, Harry Arter, Eunan O’Kane, Stephen Gleeson, Callum O’Dowda, Robbie Brady, Wes Hoolahan,  Anthony Pilkington, Jonathan Hayes.

Strikers: Shane Long, Daryl Murphy, Jon Walters, Kevin Doyle.

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