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Friday 20 September 2019

McCarthy: 'FAI saga will have no impact on my players

LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: Ireland manager Mick McCarthy insists winning matches is his primary concern
LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: Ireland manager Mick McCarthy insists winning matches is his primary concern

Mick McCarthy is certainly no rookie when it comes to drama and daggers at the FAI.

He took over as Ireland manager, for his first spell, in the wake of Merriongate and The Night Of The Long Knives, in 1996.

He left the post, in 2002, with the ghosts of Saipan in the air and the heavy hand on the Genesis report on the shoulder of the Irish game.

So he is probably the ideal pair of hands to be at the wheel as the FAI tries to steer a course away from the saga which has engulfed the association for the last number of weeks.

"You look back at the history of my jobs, I generally go into it when it's..." he says, pausing to look for the right word but unable to find one.

"So it's just another one. I will continue to try and get results. I know it's a boring old answer but that's all I can do, there's no point in me trying to get involved in anything else

"I've always maintained when you're in football, you're better off being on the back pages. That's my preference, but I can't affect that. All I can do is football, results, performances - hopefully - and I think that's what happened.

"We've had two games, we've won them both, we've got six points, I know it's stating the obvious and I can't do anything about it."

McCarthy says he is out of the loop somewhat, but not completely, on the fine detail of what has gone on, both behind closed doors at FAI HQ in Abbotstown and in the open forum that was the Oireachtas hearing.

"I don't get RTE back in Bromley, to be quite honest with you, and I wouldn't be looking at it anyway," he says when asked if he'd watched his paymasters in the FAI appear before that Oireachtas committee. "I've kept up to date with what's going on."

That included a visit to the FAI on Tuesday to try and lift morale.

READY TO GO: Republic of Ireland mens national team manager Mick McCarthy, and Republic of Ireland Womens national team manager Colin Bell
at the Aviva Stadium to launch the 2019 SportsDirect.com FAI Summer Soccer
Schools programme with (l-r) Murphy Alade (11) from Irishtown, Dublin, sisters Nicole Carberry (10) and Sarah Carberry (7) from Athlone and Jamie Stafford Doyle (10) from Rosslare
READY TO GO: Republic of Ireland mens national team manager Mick McCarthy, and Republic of Ireland Womens national team manager Colin Bell at the Aviva Stadium to launch the 2019 SportsDirect.com FAI Summer Soccer Schools programme with (l-r) Murphy Alade (11) from Irishtown, Dublin, sisters Nicole Carberry (10) and Sarah Carberry (7) from Athlone and Jamie Stafford Doyle (10) from Rosslare

"I was in the offices, I feel for the people working there. I'm a little bit immune to it, working in England, working watching players, I was acutely aware going in," he says. "If you're going into that environment and everyone is battered, the association they are working for, it must be pretty tough so I went in, had a bit of fun, had a laugh, took the piss a little bit.

"They should be proud of what they're doing. Everything that I've seen since I left 17 years ago is better than it was when I was here the last time.

"I just look at the youth teams, the teams who are beneath the senior teams who are doing well. There is a lot to be proud of and that's what I tried to say to them. That's what they should be thinking about because they can't affect what is happening either. All they can do is do their jobs."

Martin O'Neill was closely aligned to ex-CEO John Delaney but he is no longer McCarthy's point of contact for FAI business. "I don't talk to the CEO, I don't talk to John. But that's not changed much to be quite honest. I was in talking to Donal (Conway) on Tuesday and he assured me to carry on doing what I'm doing and that's all I can do," said McCarthy.

ADAMANT

"Everybody else is working it out. They're all trying to work it out while everybody else is trying to tear it apart. I'll leave people who are better at that than I to do that," he says, one last tackle at his inquisitors from the national media.

"I have to say that you guys are pretty good when you get a piece of wallpaper and it starts peeling off."

McCarthy has seven weeks before his next international and he is adamant the FAI saga will have no impact on his players. "Absolutely zero. Nothing. Not at all," he says.

"We will come in, train, and carry on as they normally do or as we have done since I've come in. It doesn't have any bearing on it at all. We saw it here. The tennis balls coming on didn't have an effect on the game or the performance, it probably has a positive effect. With Glenn Whelan getting the ball and saying 'come on'. It's the football."

McCarthy has been boosted by the goals of Shane Long and the form of Villa man Whelan, with plans for the Ireland boss to bring some young, inexperienced players along for a training camp in Portugal next month and a behind-closed-doors training game against the U21 team here to prepare for the Euro 2020 clashes with Denmark and Gibraltar.

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