Hand the job to the dream team

Eoin Hand is now living in Kerry and is a regular visitor to Killarney

A FORMER manager of the Republic of Ireland soccer team, who is now living in Kerry, believes the international side played with a real fear over the past 12 months and the players seemed afraid to make mistakes.

Eoin Hand said during the latter stages of Martin O’Neil’s reign there didn’t appear to be any game plan or tactical strategies and the players didn’t seem to know what they were supposed to be doing for corner kicks, free kicks or whenever they got a chance to attack.

Hand, now residing in Moyvane and a very frequent visitor to Killarney, said he heard from inside the camp that many of the players didn’t know what they were supposed to be doing even an hour before kick-off.

“There was a real toxic atmosphere and all the rows that were going on between the likes of Roy Keane and Harry Arter seemed to have manifested itself on the pitch,” said the former professional player who managed Ireland immediately prior to the Charlton era.

“The kind of hardman approach Roy Keane takes doesn’t wash with senior players and the management should have known that,” he added.

The former Ireland boss believes Martin O’Neill’s influence went rapidly downhill when he and Keane were being linked with vacant managerial jobs at Stoke City and Everton. He said they the situation would have been much more satisfactory if they had left at that stage or if the FAI had encouraged them to depart.

Former Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neil (second from left) at the launch of Joe Grant’s history of Killarney Athletic FC with, from left, Donagh Gleeson, FAI CEO John Delaney, author Joe Grant, Sean O’Donoghue and Don O’Donoghue.

“Good performances were needed to make sure the commitment was seen to be there but it went the opposite way. The performances were abysmal,” he remarked.

“It was inevitable that they went. It really had to happen. Once you lose the supporters then there’s a problem,” he said.

Hand, who managed Ireland from 1980 to 1985, said it was nonsense to suggest that Ireland didn’t have the quality players required because Northern Ireland and Wales are in a similar position and they “played us off the park”.

“You have got to maximise what you’ve got to work with. You must always seek somebody better to bring in but it’s vital to get the best out of what you’ve got and Martin didn’t achieve that,” he said.

The former Ireland boss believes Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny and Mick McCarthy would be his managerial dream team and it would be the perfect fit with one based in Ireland and one in Britain.

“I would actually love to see Stephen getting the top job but his profile mightn’t be big enough so bringing in Mick McCarthy to work with him would be an excellent choice, with Stephen taking over eventually.

“Stephen has earned the right to be number one and there is no question that he wouldn’t have the respect of the senior players. He is such a hard worker and so brilliant with organisation and detail that he could do for Irish soccer what Joe Schmidt has done for rugby,” he said.

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