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O’Neill allays Irish concerns and signs new contract

Dublin (AFP) – Martin O’Neill ended months of speculation on Friday revealing he and assistant Roy Keane had signed extensions to their contracts with the Republic of Ireland.

The 64-year-old Northern Irishman — who has been at the helm since 2013 — had agreed to the deal back in June but it had remained unsigned even as the Irish began their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-2 draw against Serbia last month.

However, O’Neill, who gained plaudits as the Republic reached the last 16 at Euro 2016 and led eventual finalists France in their knockout match, laid any fears to rest he might leave when he announced the squad for the qualifiers against Georgia and Moldova.

“I have signed a new deal. It was never an issue. Roy and the backroom staff have followed suit. We’re delighted,” said O’Neill.     

O’Neill’s task will be to guide the Irish to their first World Cup finals — being hosted by Russia — since 2002 when deprived of Keane, who had stormed out of their pre-tournament training camp, they went out on penalties to Spain in the last 16.

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