‘They have left him out to dry’ - Duff encourages O’Shea to turn down Ireland interim job

John O’Shea will take control of Ireland for a second spell as interim manager as the FAI continues to look for Stephen Kenny’s replacement

Shelbourne manager Damien Duff believes that John O’Shea’s career in management would be better served by rejecting a second stint as interim Republic of Ireland manager.

“If I was him, I wouldn’t take it the second time,” said Duff on Richie Sadlier’s podcast Episode. “They have left him out to dry. He is just hanging around - ‘am I getting it, am I not?’”

Nonetheless, O’Shea announces an Ireland squad on Tuesday to face Hungary in Dublin on June 4th and Portugal in Aveiro on June 11th. Both fixtures serve as warm-ups for Ireland’s opposition ahead of the Euros in Germany.

O’Shea took temporary control of Ireland for the March friendlies against Belgium, which finished 0-0, and Switzerland, a one-nil defeat, both at the Aviva stadium.

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The FAI director of football Marc Canham stated in February that a head coach to replace Stephen Kenny would be named in early April.

Canham’s reason for the delay was that the FAI’s outstanding candidate had “existing contractual obligations” but the April deadline came and went without an explanation or a new Ireland manager.

Jonathan Hill subsequently stepped down as the association’s chief executive with interim CEO David Courell now part of the recruitment process. The latest FAI deadline to name Kenny’s successor is before England come to Dublin for a Nations League tie on September 7th.

“I was so, so pleased for [O’Shea], that he got to manage his country,” said Duff. “It’s something I might never get to do, and it’s the pinnacle of any proud Irishman’s football career.

“But the whole process has been absolutely embarrassing. We used to be a footballing power; we are not anymore. How the FAI is being run, the whole organisation from top to bottom, I think they have to take the brunt of it.”

O’Shea was previously told by the FAI that he did not have enough experience to be interviewed for the vacant position. The 43-year-old, who won 118 caps for his country, previously worked as Ireland under-21 coach and a coach under Kenny in 2023, and he had brief stints as an assistant manager at Reading, Stoke City and Birmingham City.

“John, if he goes and takes it again, ok great, he might get it full-time, [which is] absolutely amazing,” Duff continued. “I’d say he was so proud standing on the touchline at the Aviva, but if I was him, I wouldn’t take it the second time. They have left him out to dry. He is just hanging around - ‘am I getting it, am I not?’ He’s too good a person, he’s too good a coach, to be doing that.

“I hope he does not take it wrong way but I’d encourage John to go on his own journey, coach every day, because that’s where the learning is. We are young coaches. He’ll be a brilliant coach, a brilliant manager.”

Duff also coached Kenny’s Ireland squad for 10 months in 2020.

“And how do I learn? Not by bouncing into international camp once every three months to take one session. It is on the grass every day, dealing with footballers, dealing with personalities, dealing with a dressing room.

“I’d like to see John take a club team now. And not wait around to see what the FAI do.”

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent