Belfast Telegraph

A matter of respect

Reflective Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill delivers his final public address on the player eligibility row and contends it is now:

By Steven Beacom

Michael O'Neill believes that Martin O'Neill misunderstood his concerns over players leaving Northern Ireland for the Republic of Ireland, insisting that he did not 'attack' the FAI over the thorny issue of eligibility.

In the latest twist to a controversial issue, the Northern Ireland manager read out a prepared statement at Windsor Park yesterday where he welcomed the opportunity to meet the Republic boss to speak about young players moving from the IFA to FAI.

While players switching allegiance has been an area of debate for years, Michael O'Neill's claims last week that the FAI targeted Catholics born here led to Martin O'Neill declaring his surprise at the comments and his 'disappointment' that religion had been brought into the debate.

Former Shamrock Rovers boss O'Neill was keen to point out that he felt "eligibility was a football issue rather than a political or religious one" adding that he was critical of how the FAI communicate with the IFA over a player potentially transferring from north to south. Wanting more respect in that regard, O'Neill called for "transparency and fairness at under-age level".

Belfast Telegraph

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