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Mick McCarthy: 'It's disappointing I can't finish it off. It's bittersweet, but I fully support the decision'

The outgoing Ireland boss has signed off with an interview on FAI TV.

Mick McCarthy: 'It's only right and fair that Stephen gets his chance.'
Mick McCarthy: 'It's only right and fair that Stephen gets his chance.'
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

OUTGOING IRELAND BOSS Mick McCarthy says his premature departure is “disappointing” though he “fully supports the decision” that Stephen Kenny will oversee the remainder of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign. 

This afternoon, the Football Association of Ireland [FAI] announced that McCarthy would be replaced by U21 boss Kenny with immediate effect.

The plan had always been for Kenny to take the reins after Euro 2020, but after the tournament’s postponement due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, everything was in the air.

“What are my thoughts? I said on 1 December 2018, when I took the job, that I’d be leaving on 31 July [2020] come what may,” McCarthy told FAI TV this evening.

“But those discussions were based on us qualifying and then maybe doing really well in the Euros. I said I was leaving and that’s still the case, albeit it’s been brought forward because of what’s happening worldwide

 ”Look, that’s hugely disappointing but I fully understand it as well. I see Åge Hareide is the same, the Denmark coach, he’s a pal of mine. He started the same competition and he’s leaving now because his successor was already picked to take over — mine was the same.

It’s disappointing I can’t finish it off, I think we’ve had a really good campaign. We were almost there in November when we played Denmark, sadly we didn’t [make it] and the play-offs have been pushed back. I fully understand it, Stephen’s been contracted to take over in August and good luck to him. He’ll get the chance now to qualify.

McCarthy’s second stint at the helm came to a sudden end ahead of the Boys In Green’s Euro qualifier play-off against Slovakia, which has been moved to September at earliest.

Reflecting on his time in charge, McCarthy stressed how much he enjoyed it, and offered his full support to his predecessor.

Source: FAI TV/YouTube

“If there was a reconnection needed, we certainly got that. It’s been brilliant. I’ve loved being back, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s been an absolute pleasure and an honour to do the job again. I think I’m leaving Stephen with a healthy balance, to be quite honest.

“It gives everybody clarity. To the real credit of Gary [Owens] and Roy [Barrett], they’ve taken over and made this decision quickly.

I support the decision because it’s only right and fair that Stephen gets his chance. It’s bittersweet, but I fully support it. 

He thanked all of his players and staff and “commiserates with them that we’re not going to finish it,” and also shared his gratitude for the Ireland fans, who have been “wonderful from day one.”

McCarthy concluded that he will “absolutely” be back in football — “I’m back on the market,” he smirked — and he plans to support Ireland on the road to the European Championships.

Meanwhile, Minister for Sport, Shane Ross, and Brendan Griffin have also paid tribute to the outgoing manager.

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Emma Duffy

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