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Irish FA remaining tight-lipped on future of Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough


Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough has come under fire

Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough has come under fire

Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough has come under fire

The Irish Football Association have refused to clarify if Ian Baraclough has their full support after a dreadful start to Northern Ireland’s Nations League campaign.

Baraclough was booed after defeats to Greece and Kosovo and two draws with Cyprus, leaving his record standing at three competitive wins in 20 games.

Two years ago, the IFA chose Baraclough to succeed Michael O’Neill ahead of Jim Magilton, Stephen Robinson, Tommy Wright and Kenny Shiels.

The IFA Executive Board voted unanimously to extend his contract by a further two years last December, taking the former Under-21 manager through the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

However, it is understood the results did not go down well and the IFA held a scheduled Board meeting on Thursday night.

With speculation about Baraclough’s future rife, Sunday Life asked the IFA if the senior manager’s future had been discussed at the meeting and if Baraclough still retains the full confidence and support of his employers.

An IFA spokesperson simply replied: “The Irish FA Board met on Thursday and discussed a range of matters,” and refused to say any more on the issue.

Northern Ireland have two more Nations League games in September — against Greece and Kosovo — before the Euro 2024 qualifiers begin in March of next year.

Baraclough is insistent his team will be much better in September having given several young players valuable first-team experience earlier this month.

Meanwhile, at Windsor Park tomorrow night, Conrad Kirkwood and Jack Grundie will square off in a Presidential election for the second year in a row at the Irish FA AGM.

An IFA Council meeting will follow and members will be asked to vote for either current President Kirkwood or Grundie, who has served for years as an IFA Vice-President.

Kirkwood is favourite to win but insiders are divided regarding the number of votes the Abbey Villa man will receive.

When David Martin stepped down as President a year ago, Kirkwood beat Grundie to the plum role by 23 votes to 20.

However, senior clubs were unhappy about the circumstances surrounding Gerard Lawlor’s resignation from the IFA Board last autumn, and these sentiments were compounded when the IFA blocked Stephen Henderson’s attempt to run for a position on the Board.

Senior clubs want more representation on the ruling Executive Board and have rowed in behind Grundie’s attempts to become President.

While Kirkwood is the favourite to remain in office, Grundie is undeterred and his supporters feel that another narrow victory for his opponent would not be the vote of confidence he requires, and could leave him vulnerable to further Presidential challenges.

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