Irish coaches encouraged by the new approach
IT'S early days in this brave new world for Irish football as everyone under the umbrella of the FAI gets to grips with the fact that the Italian way is no longer in vogue.
But already, some of those working at the coalface of the Irish game feel that the Martin O'Neill/Roy Keane ticket will give them a warm welcome and not a cold shoulder.
O'Neill's head must have been spinning on his first day in the job in Dublin on Saturday as he pressed the flesh with FAI staff, board members, sponsors, fans and assorted hangers-on and, a bit like the first day at school, it was hard for the new boy to remember all those names.
But O'Neill took time out to meet two of the coaches of the Irish underage teams, as Tom O'Connor (U16s) and Tom Mohan (U17s and U19s) got a chance to chat to the new boss and give him an idea of what they can offer.
O'Neill and Mohan share a similar background, as Mohan's home place of Roslea (Co Fermanagh) is very much like Kilrea in Co Derry, where O'Neill grew up.
"We've had the same kind of upbringing in the same kind of area, growing up in a place where GAA is very strong. He's had a lot more success in soccer than me, but I have one up on Martin; I got to play at minor level for my county and I don't think Martin ever played for Derry," joked Mohan, a former Derry City star.
"Martin is a legend in terms of what he has achieved in the game. You can see that, with any of the teams he managed, he got a response from the players, his teams always reflected his enthusiasm, his will and desire to win.
"So it was good for me to get to meet him and hear what he had to say. He was keen to know about how the underage teams were doing, what players we had coming through, he took a real interest.
"I can't comment on what the relationship was like between the previous Ireland manager and the underage teams as I wasn't in the job all that long, but, so far, I have been very encouraged by Martin and what he had to say.
"I think the whole country has reacted well to the appointment of Martin and Roy, and it's great for those who are in the FAI as the people there work very hard and a lot of the work doesn't get acknowledged."
Roy Keane has persistently shown his eagerness to help out young Irish talent – only last week, he put in a phone call to Cody Mulhall, a young talent from Kildare whose season at Hibernian has been ended by injury. Mulhall said the call from Keane gave him a huge confidence boost.
"I think Martin and Roy coming in will encourage and motivate the young talent we have," says Mohan.