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Derry City speculation didn't take Baraclough's gaze off Irish FA contract extension

 

Speculation linking him with a move to Derry City didn't tempt Ian Baraclough to delay contract talks with the Irish FA.

The 47 year-old put pen to paper on a new two-year deal earlier this week despite keen interest from the Maiden City.

Kenny Shiels' departure from the League of Ireland club was announced on Saturday and Baraclough's was a name right in the frame, with those in the corridors of power at the Brandywell known to admire his work with Northern Ireland U21s and Sligo Rovers before that.

City made their interest known but were informed that Baraclough was already in advanced discussions over his new deal with the Irish FA.

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The man himself was never tempted to take his focus off continuing in his current role.

"Not to me," he said, when asked if there had been contact with Derry City. "I think it was the press, the media, whoever generating that. I didn't have any contact. For me, I've been focused on that and as soon as I found out that the IFA wanted to extend the contract, that was something I wanted to concentrate on. It was great to get it done quickly."

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Securing his services for the next qualification campaign is positive work from the Irish FA, given Baraclough led his U21 side to within a whisker of securing a play-off spot for the 2019 UEFA U21 Championship.

"I really enjoyed the job and you want to continue it," he said. "You want to see the job through. The young players start coming through and all of a sudden there's a change of face. They want a bit of continuity and that's great because we've put something in place.

"That process was done long before I came. I've picked up the reigns and we've managed to run with it. The amount of players that are now on the radar of the manager of the senior team is superb.

"I think success helps you enjoy it, even the games where you've struggled or you're trying to implement things with the group - it takes time.

"I've been in the job now 18 months. I've now got another two years to try and bring the next crop through, plus those that we've already blooded and that's important. All of a sudden you've got a group of players leaving, where's the next crop?

"I know there are U19s from Stephen Frail, there are the likes of (Daniel) Ballard, Conor Hazard, younger players that possibly didn't think they were going to get a game in the U21s, they've come in and done fantastically well.

"The future's bright and it's good to be a part of it."

Baraclough was speaking as the Irish FA and the FAI announced a joint bid to host the 2023 UEFA U21 Championship. Any chance he'll still be in the job in five years time to play in a home tournament?

"I've been in it long enough to know that long term, you can't always plan for," he smiled.

"This gives you something long into the future. For both associations to be able to announce it and hopefully get it over the line, it would be superb for the economy, for the football, for the two nations. Hopefully we can get it done.

"We're raising the profile at this level and to have the campaign we've had reinforces that. Hopefully with the next crop, we can be even better. I'm making no promises but you set the boundaries yourself. You set yourself a goal and now the lads know they've got something to go for. All of a sudden the bar has been raised and we've all got to step up to that."


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