O’Neill and Keane to lead Ireland into 2018 World Cup qualifiers

Dublin (AFP) – Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill and assistant Roy Keane have extended their contracts by two years in a move that will see them lead the team into a qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup.

The duo, together with backroom staff Steve Guppy, Seamus McDonagh and Steve Walford, will remain in post after guiding the Republic to the Euro 2016 finals in France.

“I am delighted that (chief executive) John Delaney and the FAI Board have extended our contracts for the World Cup campaign,” O’Neill told the Football Association of Ireland’s website on Tuesday.

“It has been an absolute privilege to have been in charge of the Republic of Ireland national team these last 30 months, and we go to France tomorrow (Wednesday) in good spirits with a strong desire to do well in the next few weeks,” said former Leicester and Celtic manager O’Neill, who as a player represented Northern Ireland.

“The players have done brilliantly in the campaign so far and they are ready for the big challenges ahead.”

O’Neill and former Republic midfielder Keane have been together since November 2013 and a clearly pleased Delaney said: “I am delighted we have agreed terms with Martin and his team of Roy Keane, Steve Guppy, Seamus McDonagh and Steve Walford.

“The board of the FAI were unanimous in offering Martin and his full management team a renewal of their contracts.

“Since Martin has taken over, we have achieved the objective of qualifying for the Euros and he has led the project in helping to develop some of the emerging talents in Irish football, including Robbie Brady and Shane Duffy, right up to the recent introduction of Callum O’Dowd, who made his senior debut last week.

“I am delighted to have worked with Martin and his team through qualification for the Euros, and I and all of the staff in the association look forward to working with them into the future.”

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