4 possible candidates for the newly-vacant Irish U21s job

Stephen Kenny has taken the step up to senior level earlier than advertised.

CLARITY HAS ARRIVED like a bolt from the blue, as the FAI have decided it’s time Stephen Kenny becomes the Irish senior boss with games unlikely to be played until the autumn. 

That leaves his now-former role with the Irish U21s freshly vacant, so here are some of those who might be in contention for the gig. 

Jim Crawford 

jim-crawford Jim Crawford. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Crawford worked with Keith Andrews in Kenny’s backroom team to date and is likely the frontrunner to take on the role full-time, and seek to qualify Ireland for an U21 finals for the first time. 

Having impressed for Bohemians in the early ’90s, he moved to Newcastle United but failed to make an impact at a club recruiting the likes of Les Ferdinand and David Ginola. He floated around clubs in the UK before coming back to Ireland, paying with Shels for seven years before retiring at Sporting Fingal in 2008. 

He then had a brief spell as caretaker manager of Shamrock Rovers after the exit of Pat Scully, while working with the FAI as a development officer. He subsequently worked as Ireland U18s manager, while he was assistant to Paul Doolin with the U19s for a number of years. 

Robbie Keane 

robbie-keane Robbie Keane. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Perhaps impossible given Keane’s involvement with Middlesborough, but all indications are that Keane won’t be involved in Kenny’s backroom team in spite of the fact his FAI contract was longer than McCarthy’s. 

Still, if Keane wants to stay around the FAI to cut his coaching teeth, the 21s job may be an option for him, and he should have his Uefa Pro Licence completed by the time the side plays again. 

Tom Mohan 

tom-mohan Tom Mohan. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

Underage coach Mohan is extremely highly-regarded and brought the Irish U19s to the semi-finals of the European Championships last year, becoming the first Irish coach to get to the final four of a tournament since Paul Doolin did so in 2011. 

Mohan will make a step up eventually, and would be a prime candidate to do so in the wake of Kenny’s departure. 

Vinny Perth 

vinny-perth Vinny Perth. Ciaran Culligan / INPHO Ciaran Culligan / INPHO / INPHO

The FAI are likely to look in-house for the next U21s boss, but if they were to glance beyond Abbottstown, his most recent successor might be a slightly left-field option. 

Dundalk have barely stuttered since Kenny left and Perth took charge alongside John Gill, and if the FAI are to emulate Kenny’s desire for continuity of style and approach throughout the underage teams, they could do worse than employ someone with a keen understanding of exactly that approach. 

Perth, of course, may not wish to step away from one of the biggest clubs in the country, with whom his contract expires at the end of this year. 

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