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'Obviously I want to get back and have another crack off it' - Keane on club management

However, Ireland’s assistant manager is still ‘enjoying the role’ for now.

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane.
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

WITH FOUR GAMES to play and Ireland languishing in fourth place in Group D, qualification for Euro 2016 is currently looking unlikely.

It won’t sit well with Roy Keane that his first campaign as part of the management team seems set to end in disappointment, but the Republic of Ireland’s assistant boss says he’s still enjoying the ride.

“Yeah yeah, it’s brilliant. I love it, yeah, it’s great.”

Nevertheless, an eventual return to club management remains in his plans. With the exception of a brief spell as Paul Lambert’s number two at Aston Villa, Keane hasn’t managed a club side since leaving Ipswich Town four-and-a-half years ago.

Keane was at FAI headquarters in Abbotstown yesterday for the launch of the SSE Airtricity National U17 League. The Corkman has been working as Ireland manager Martin O’Neill’s assistant since the pair’s appointment in November 2013, but he was asked if managing at club level is still on his agenda.

“Yeah, I’ve made that clear. Obviously I want to get back and have another crack off it,” said Keane. “But I’m enjoying the role with Martin and all the other staff, and working with the players and the FAI. It’s not been a disappointment.

“The enthusiasm is still there. Obviously you’re always hoping that one or two results might have been better, of course, but I’m enjoying the role. It’s not disappointed me.”

Ireland’s hopes of making next summer’s European Championship finals in France suffered a significant blow last month when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Scotland at the Aviva Stadium.

Shaun Maloney scores a goal after it was deflected in off Steven Fletcher Scotland's equaliser against Ireland in Dublin in June. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

A top-two finish will secure qualification, while third place — currently occupied by the Scots, who are two points clear of Ireland — will guarantee at least a play-off.

Will this qualification campaign define the tenure of O’Neill and Keane, who were initially brought in on a two-year deal which is due to expire after Ireland’s Euro 2016 involvement ends?

Next up is a double header against Gibraltar (away) and Georgia (home) in September. The campaign concludes in October with a trip to Poland, which will come just three days after a meeting with world champions Germany in Dublin.

“It’s an important month or two but I don’t mind that kind of pressure situation,” said Keane. “It’ll define the group, obviously, what happens in the next four games.

“I know everyone was disappointed after the last game. I thought the players gave everything. We could have done with a little bit of luck; a little bit more quality in the final third. But we’re in there fighting. We’ll take stock after the group.

“Define our time? Unless you know something, I don’t know if it’s coming to an end pretty quickly but we’ve got an important couple of months coming up. But we’re looking forward to it. That’s the nature of the game.”

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Paul Dollery

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