Martin O’Neill’s five-year reign as Republic of Ireland manager is over after he agreed to step down from his role.
The Football Association of Ireland announced on Wednesday morning that they had parted company with the 66-year-old by mutual consent after a dreadful run of form and results which had seen his team win just once in nine matches during 2018.
O’Neill’s departure, along with those of assistant Roy Keane, goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh and assistant coach Steve Guppy, was confirmed in an FAI statement two days after Ireland ended a deeply disappointing first Nations League campaign with a 0-0 draw in Denmark.
It read: “The board of the Football Association of Ireland have mutually agreed with Martin O’Neill to part company.
“The FAI Board will meet promptly to discuss the process of recruiting a new manager.”
Former manager Mick McCarthy, who left Ipswich over the summer, has been installed as the favourite for the vacancy, while Steve Bruce, Chris Hughton and Neil Lennon have also been touted as contenders.
The Derryman, who replaced Italian Giovanni Trapattoni at the helm in November 2013, took charge of 55 games and capped 65 players during his tenure, 28 of them for the first time.
He guided Ireland to the Euro 2016 finals, a run which included a famous victory over world champions Germany, and they beat Italy to reach the last 16 at the tournament.
The Republic also came within 90 minutes of this summer’s World Cup finals, only to be beaten 5-1 in the second leg of their play-off against Denmark in November last year after raising hopes with a battling 0-0 draw in Copenhagen.
FAI chief executive John Delaney said: “I would like to thank Martin, Roy, and the management team for the impact that they had with the Ireland team.
“There have been many highlights during Martin’s reign – none more so than Euro 2016 in France, which will live long in the memory of all Irish supporters.
“Martin did a great job guiding the team out of a difficult qualifying group – where we beat World Champions Germany along the way – to reach Euro 2016 and advance to the last 16 following a historic victory over Italy in Lille.
“I wish Martin, and the management team, the very best for the future.”
However, that drubbing at the hands of the Danes at the Aviva Stadium signalled the start of a downward spiral which had thrown O’Neill’s continued presence into doubt in recent months.
Since they beat Wales 1-0 in Cardiff to book their play-off berth, they have played 11 games and won only one of them, and that a 2-1 friendly victory over the United States in June which was clinched with a last-gasp winner.
Perhaps more worryingly, they have not scored a single goal in 397 minutes – approaching seven hours – of football amid growing dismay over the perceived negativity of O’Neill’s approach.
In mitigation, he has lost big figures in Irish football from his squad in recent seasons, with the retirement from international football of the likes of Shay Given, Kevin Kilbane, Richard Dunne, John O’Shea, Damien Duff and Robbie Keane, while, more recently, long-term injuries have robbed him of skipper Seamus Coleman and Robbie Brady.
However, the ultra-conservative approach his team has taken towards the end of his reign as he has tried to blood a new generation of players has not been well received and, as results have dipped, he has been increasingly unable to justify the means by the ends.