Stephen Kenny has replaced Mick McCarthy as Republic of Ireland manager with immediate effect, following UEFA’s announcement that the Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs would again be delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
McCarthy’s contract was due to run until July 31, after the Euro 2020 finals were originally due to finish, with Kenny due to step up from his role with the Under-21s on August 1.
The Republic are due to face Slovakia away in the Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs, with the winner to face either Northern Ireland or Bosnia and Herzegovina.
However, the fixture has been postponed for a second time due to the pandemic.
Interim FAI chief executive Gary Owens said: “This has been a difficult situation for the Association – and for Mick and Stephen in particular – in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the effect it has had on the football calendar.
“On behalf of president Gerry McAnaney, the board of the FAI and myself, I want to thank both men for their professionalism and their understanding in their dealings with the Association in these unprecedented circumstances. These are exceptional times in Irish life and Mick has taken that into account in agreeing to vacate the post early.
“On behalf of the FAI, I wish to express our gratitude to Mick for his service and commitment to our national team throughout his career and particularly in his second spell as Ireland manager.
“We wish Mick and his staff well and we thank them all for their hard work in this European Championship campaign to date.”
The match against Slovakia was originally due to take place on March 26, then shifted to the June international window due to the suspension of football across Europe.
UEFA announced earlier this week that no international football would go ahead in June, with no new dates announced.
McCarthy said that he was in full support of the decision, saying his departure had been brought forward by global events.
I said I was leaving and that is still the case, albeit of course it has been brought forward by what is happening worldwideMick McCarthy
“I said I was leaving and that is still the case, albeit of course it has been brought forward by what is happening worldwide,” McCarthy said.
“It is hugely disappointing (not to finish the job) but I understand it as well. I think we have had a really good campaign and the play-offs have been pushed back and I fully understand it.
“Stephen is contracted to take over in August and good luck to him. He will get the chance now to qualify.
“I want to say thank you to all of them (players and staff) for the commitment they’ve shown and the professionalism they’ve shown.”
Owens added: “Stephen will now begin his planning for the play-off against Slovakia and everyone at the FAI wishes him well in our bid to qualify for Euro 2020.
“Football will be back and we have so much to look forward to now in the autumn with the Nations League and the UEFA EURO 2020 play-off, followed by the World Cup qualifiers in early 2021.”
Northern Ireland are themselves in the market for a new manager with Michael O’Neill due to step down following the qualifying play-offs, having become boss of Sky Bet Championship Stoke in November.
But there is no change in the IFA’s position, with O’Neill due to take charge for the play-offs whenever they might be staged.
Former Republic of Ireland striker Clinton Morrison believes Kenny is the right selection.
Morrison told Sky Sports News: “I think it is the right decision.
“Mick’s done a superb job. He galvanised the squad and got them playing football.
“We can’t attract the best players but with the group of players he had he did a tremendous job. They were in a difficult group.
“I’ve spoken to Stephen Kenny and he’s experienced, he knows what he’s doing, he’s worked with the Under-21 team and he’s been in the industry for a long time.
“He was always earmarked to go in and replace Mick, it’s just sooner than we thought.”