Belfast Telegraph

Craigan makes step-up as under-19 boss

By Stuart McKinley

The Irish FA has promoted former Northern Ireland defender Stephen Craigan to the position of under-19 international manager.

Craigan, capped 54 times as a player, steps up from the role of assistant manager to take charge of the team.

Craigan's appointment brings about a reshuffle within the Northern Ireland underage coaching set-up, with Stephen Robinson moving away from the under-19 role to become full-time manager of the under-21 team.

"I am extremely honoured to be given this position with the under-19s," said 36-year-old Craigan, who retired from international football in the summer of 2011 and quit altogether a year later.

"During the last year I worked as Stephen Robinson's assistant with the under-19s and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the squad.

"We have many good young players coming through the ranks and it's definitely an exciting time to be involved with the Northern Ireland youth set-up."

The appointment of Craigan and Robinson's move also sees a change in ideas within the IFA's structure.

The under-17 and under-19 roles were previously combined, with Robinson managing both teams.

He will, however, still take charge of the under-17s as well as performing the under-21 role – one which he has been doing on a temporary basis since Michael O'Neill became international boss at the beginning of last year.

The under-21s will begin their Euro 2015 qualifying campaign with a trip to Cyprus on Thursday May 30 and Robinson is expected to promote a number of the under-19s who were in his last squad.

In the group they will also face Belgium, Italy and Serbia

"I know from my time with the under-19s, under-17s and under-21s, the calibre of players we have and what they are capable of," said Robinson.

"I am looking forward to continuing to work and develop players at youth international level and in close partnership with Stephen Craigan and Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill."

Craigan will lead the under-19s into competitive action for the first time when they travel to Belgium for the European Championship qualifying series in October.

There they will face Belgium, France and Iceland.

The next competitive action for the under-17s will be in November. Their qualifying fixtures against Latvia, Luxembourg and Turkey will be played in Northern Ireland.

On the appointments senior boss Michael O'Neill said: "Stephen Robinson and Stephen Craigan are two exciting young coaches with plenty of ambition and drive to succeed

"They have tremendous experience as players and I have absolutely no doubt that they will use this experience and become first class coaches and managers."

• Glentoran have confirmed that club captain Colin Nixon will leave the club at the end of the season.

A statement released by the chairman and board of directors read: "In recent discussions Glentoran manager, Eddie Patterson, informed Colin Nixon that his current contract, which expires at the end of this season, will not be renewed."

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