Delaney dismisses IFA defection fears after O'Neill appointment

The FAI chief has denied suggestions that more players will opt for the Boys in Green over Northern Ireland after it was announced that Martin O'Neill would manage Ireland
The chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has played down suggestions that the appointment of Martin O'Neill as manager of the Republic of Ireland will lead to an upsurge in players switching international allegiance.

O'Neill, who hails from Derry, is a former Northern Ireland international, captaining the team during the 1982 World Cup in Spain and is set to be officially unveiled as Ireland manager on Saturday November 9.

Players such as Wigan Athletic winger James McClean, Stoke City's Marc Wilson and Everton midfielder Darron Gibson each played for Northern Ireland youth teams before switching to the Republic of Ireland.

Speaking on Newstalk, the FAI chief dismissed the idea that the appointment of O'Neill would have a detrimental effect on the Irish Football Association (IFA), noting that players had been opting for the Republic of Ireland for several years.

"That issue has been there long before Martin O'Neill coming to manage Ireland," said Delaney.

He added: "I think the players make up their own mind. James McClean, Darron Gibson, players like that have declared for the Republic more because of their traditional backgrounds and they want to play for the Republic as opposed to the north of Ireland [sic].

"People like James McClean, who grew up in Derry, Darron Gibson, young [Marc] Wilson, they've always wanted to play for the Republic of Ireland at the senior level."

In 2010, the IFA took a case against the FAI and Fifa to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in a bid to stop players from switching association. However, the appeal was unsuccessful and the court ruled against the IFA.