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Ex-Celtic coach Frail will be great for NI youngsters: O'Neill

By Steven Beacom

Published 20/08/2016

Excited: Stephen Frail is relishing his role with Northern Ireland’s starlets
Excited: Stephen Frail is relishing his role with Northern Ireland’s starlets

Michael O'Neill has hailed the appointment of new full-time Under-17 and Under-19 Northern Ireland coach Stephen Frail.

The former Celtic Development Squad Head Coach replaces ex-Northern Ireland stars Stephen Craigan and Damien Johnson who have both left the international set-up to concentrate on their club coaching commitments at Motherwell and Blackburn Rovers respectively.

Frail arrives with a fine reputation from Scotland where he coached at various clubs over the course of 13 years. The 47-year-old was previously assistant boss at Morton and caretaker manager at Hearts for a short period, before joining Celtic where he spent six years developing the Parkhead youngsters.

Frail, who was a player with Dundee, Hearts, Tranmere, St Johnstone and Greenock Morton, is relishing the prospect of coaching Northern Ireland's brightest young talent and working with O'Neill and the Irish FA's Elite Performance Director Jim Magilton.

"I'm really excited to be getting involved with Northern Ireland at Under-19 and Under-17 level as both groups are at a very important stage of their development," said Frail.

"I have spoken with both Michael O'Neill and Jim Magilton on their plans for the senior team and the elite performance pathway and I'm looking forward to working alongside them and the Irish FA's other top coaches to produce the next crop of senior internationals."

O'Neill stated: "In Stephen Frail we have appointed a hugely experienced coach with a successful track record of identifying and developing talented young players.

"I have worked with him in the past and know how highly regarded he is in the game, especially in Scottish football.

"I am therefore delighted that he has joined the IFA at this significant time and am looking forward to seeing him bring his considerable expertise to our Under-19 and Under-17 Northern Ireland teams."

While Frail will be welcomed by fans, there will be some disappointment that popular figures Craigan and Johnson have left the Northern Ireland ranks.

On their departures, O'Neill said: "I want to thank Stephen and Damien for the great work that they have done with our representative teams in recent years. They both played significant roles in progressing the young players in our set-up and helping them to be the best that they can be. I wish them both well as they pursue their coaching careers at club level."

Belfast Telegraph

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