OVER the years, Sunderland Football Club have had strong ties with the Republic of Ireland both on and off the pitch.
And those ties seem to have accelerated over the last 10 years or so.
Players like Charlie Hurley and Niall Quinn are legends, we’ve been managed by Mick McCarthy and Roy Keane and the Ireland-based Drumaville Consortium moved the club forward and had a hugely positive influence.
Now the Republic of Ireland seem to be going down the Sunderland route with their appointment of not just one but two ex-Sunderland bosses as their new management team – and they already have John O’Shea as captain!
I’m sure I’m not the only Sunderland fan who will be watching the Republic of Ireland games with a bit more interest than usual and I would be fascinated to see how the dynamics of this new managerial partnership works.
O’Neill has the title of manager with Keane as his assistant and it will be interesting to see if this is how it actually plays out as I can’t imagine Roy Keane being in anybody’s shadow.
I have a feeling that it is not going to be dull within the Irish set-up, with Martin O’Neill’s excitable nature and Keane’s volatile and unpredictable personality.
And I’m sure the media will focus a lot of attention on the two of them, with headlines already being written.
Both O’Neill and Keane had great starts to their Sunderland careers and were popular with the crowd but both were unable to move us on and take us to the next level.
It may not have worked out as they would have liked in their separate times at Sunderland but together it just might be an unlikely pairing that works out well at international level.