Sports Digest: Celtic boss Neil Lennon vents fury at Hibs


“I remember 12 months ago I had to take over a club – a good club – that was bottom of the Championship.

“I had to put my backside in the bacon slicer – we had seven points from 13 games – and I did it and I’ve done a good job. We’re doing all right this year.

“I can’t help speculation but until they ask me – and it might never happen – that’s all I’m going to say.

“I love being here, I love the job. I’m not asking for it (the Irish job) and I’m not courting it. I’m not trying to do anything with it.”

McCarthy’s words have been interpreted as a “come and get me” message by many pundits in Ireland amid stories the FAI will finally seek contact with Ipswich this week.

They will do so after a series of meetings between CEO Delaney and senior players last week when McCarthy’s candidature was endorsed before and after the Kazakhstan game which Ireland won 3-1.

Ireland captain Robbie Keane had backed a McCarthy return to the Ireland job before the final World Cup win over Kazakhstan and fellow veteran Richard Dunne was singing from the same hymn sheet.

Dunne said, “Mick is a credible contender. He obviously said he might be interested, maybe, in it and having worked with him before I really enjoyed it, so if he was the FAI’s choice, that would be great.”

The next manager will have almost a year before a competitive fixture, and Dunne says the time will be needed to mould a new side and a new mentality.

The QPR defender added, “There are a lot of things to be done over the next 11 months. I think the squad will probably be re-shaped and restructured and a new style of play, whatever the new manager wants.

And Dunne is in no rush to quit international football. “Obviously, I will get to an age where it’s not in my hands anymore. Whoever comes in might want a fresh start and new players, so I will just have to wait and see whether I am selected or not.

“But I don’t feel there’s any need for anyone to come out and make big statements that they are retiring or that they are this or that. I’m either picked or I’m not, it’s not really down to me.”
Noel King Takes Critics in Stride

Noel King was involved in a heated exchange with RTE’s Tony O’Donoghue afterwards, but not even that could take away from his enjoyment of a 3-1 win over Kazakhstan in Ireland’s final World Cup qualifier.

With the identity of the next Ireland boss still unknown, King secured his first victory as interim manager thanks to a Robbie Keane penalty and further goals from John O’Shea and an own goal from Kazakh scorer Shomko.

Andy Reid was one of the stars of the show on his return to the fold after he was frozen out by Giovanni Trapattoni.

King said, “I was so pleased for him, so pleased for him. He was disappointed not to play in Germany.

“He’s a wonderful little character, he’s a wonderful little player. He’s a throwback. He was immense.”

Asked about his two game spell in charge of Ireland -- and he may well keep the job for next month’s two friendlies -- King admitted, “It’s been tiring, it’s been harrowing, it’s been fantastic.

“Working with the players, who are terrific, really professional players, was terrific and enjoyable and, I would imagine, educational for everybody.”

As stories emerged of unhappy tweets from Shane Long and James McClean before the game, King insisted he had no problems inside the Irish dressing room.

“I have addressed the group and I understand. How would you be happy spending 10 after days and not playing? Try it, it’s horrendous,” he said.

“I don’t mind if they are unhappy, that’s life. They may have been unhappy, but not one of them sulked and not one of them didn’t perform any of the things I was asking them to do.”