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Irish Football > Republic of Ireland Managers > Mick McCarthy

Mick McCarthy - Irish Soccer Manager

Mick McCarthy
Mick McCarthy

In February 1996 Mick McCarthy became the manager of the Republic of Ireland football team following the resignation of the highly successful Jack Charlton. McCarthy had played for, and captained, the Republic of Ireland when Charlton was the Irish manager and had earned a total of 57 international caps.

Prior to his appointment by the FAI as Irish manager he had managed Milwall FC in England for three years.

Mick McCarthy Football Background

Mick McCarthy was born in Barnsley, England on 7th February 1959. He began his professional football career playing for his local club, Barnsley FC and went on to make 272 appearances for the club. In 1983 he signed for Second Division Manchester City and it was with City that he played top flight football when the club won promotion to the old First Division.

In 1987 he joined Glasgow Celtic in Scotland and it was hear that McCarthy won his first major silverware as the club won the League and Cup double in his first season. He made 48 appearances for Celtic before transferring to Lyon in France.

He had little success with Lyon and only made 10 appearances for the French club. Mick McCarthy finished his playing days with Milwall making his last professional appearance in 1992.

Mick McCarthy - International Career

Mick McCarthy qualified to play for Ireland as his father was Irish and he made his debut for the Republic of Ireland on 23rd May 1984 at Dalymount Park in a 0-0 draw. His first competitive match was in a 3-0 loss to Denmark 1986 World cup qualifier in Copenhagen in November 1984. Eoin Hand was the Irish manager at the time. McCarthy came into the team when Ireland was on a poor run of results however the appointment of Jack Charlton as Irish manager that heralded a golden era for Irish football and for Mick McCarthy. Often considered somewhat ponderous and less skilful than other Irish centre halves of the time, McCarthy suited the Charlton football style. McCarthy became a fixture in the Irish defence under Charlton and captained Ireland during the 1990 World Cup finals earning himself the nickname Captain Fantastic. His last match for Ireland was during the US Cup in June 1992 against Portugal.

Mick McCarthy as Republic of Ireland Manager

Following the resignation of Jack Charlton the FAI deliberated long and hard over who should replace the most successful Irish manager ever. Charlton would be a hard act to follow and the choice came down to just Mick McCarthy and fellow Irish centre half Kevin Moran. The FAI decided to go with McCarthy because of his three years managerial experience with Milwall. McCarthy's task was made more difficult because the Irish squad was old and was in need of rebuilding.

Mick McCarthy's First Match as Irish Manager

To facilitate the rebuilding efforts McCarthy undertook to play a series of eight friendly matches. His first match as Irish manager was a home match against Russia. It was an inauspicious start as the Russians won 2-0 and Ireland had Roy Keane sent off. It was not until McCarthy's seventh game in charge that he tasted success with a 3-0 victory over Bolivia in the US Cup in New Jersey.

Developments During the Mick McCarthy Era

Mick McCarthy used a much less direct, and more creative, playing style than his predecessor Jack Charlton. This was a surprise to most fans and football pundits as McCarthy was an uncompromising player and was viewed as an acolyte of Charlton. McCarthy's more attractive playing style was supported by the emergence of new young talented players such as Robbie Keane, Damien Duff, Ian Harte, and Kenny Cunningham.

Mick McCarthy's First Match Competitive as Irish Manager

Mick McCarthy's first competitive match was the first tie in the 1998 World Cup qualifiers. On the 31st of August 1996 McCarthy kicked off his competitive international management career with a 0-5 win over Liechtenstein in Eschen. This was followed by a 3-0 home win over FYR Macedonia. Unfortunately the wheels cam off for McCarthy with a 0-0 home draw with Iceland and an away 3-2 loss to Macedonia. Ireland finished the qualifiers in second place in group 8 but a full ten points behind the group winners Romania. Second place was enough to qualify for a play-off with Belgium over two matches. Following a 1-1 draw at Lansdowne Road (now the Aviva Stadium) in the first leg McCarthy's Ireland were beaten 2-1 with a 70th minute winner from Luc Nilis.

Euro 2000 Championship Qualification Campaign

For the 2000 Euro qualifiers Ireland drew Yugoslavia, Croatia, Macedonia and Malta in group 8. Yugoslavia and Croatia had strong teams at the time and qualification was a tall order. By this time Mick McCarthy's squad bore little resemblance to that which he inherited from Jack Charlton. Despite this Ireland began the campaign with an impressive 2-0 home win over Croatia. Later in the group Ireland also dispatched Yugoslavia 2-1 at Lansdowne Road. Unfortunately away losses to the two Balkan states meant that Ireland finished up just a single point behind Yugoslavia and once again facing a two match play-off. Turkey provided the opposition in the play-off and an 84th minute penalty by Turkey's Tayfur effectively settled the tie. That penalty earned the Turks a 1-1 draw at Lansdowne Road. The return match in Bursa ended in a 0-0 stalemate and Turkey qualified for Euro 2000 on the away goals rule.

2002 World Cup Qualification Campaign

The draw for the 2002 World Cup qualifiers was even more daunting than the previous campaign. McCarthy's Ireland was drawn with European footballing powerhouses of the Netherlands and Portugal. Estonia, Cyprus and Andorra were also drawn in group 2. They idea of finishing ahead of either of the big two teams seemed highly improbable. Despite this Ireland started the group off with away draws with Holland and Portugal. An impressive start that could have been so much better had Ireland not let a 0-2 lead - with just 20 minutes to go - slip in Amsterdam. Ireland's progress through the group was marked by some thoroughly compelling performances by captain Roy Keane. It was by no means a one-man show but in some matches the Corkman was the difference between success and failure. Ireland's penultimate match in the group at home to Holland proved decisive. Despite being reduced to ten men Ireland triumphed through a fine strike by Jason McAteer. Ireland finished behind Portugal on goal difference but four points ahead of the Dutch. At the third time of asking Mick McCarthy led Ireland to a play-off victory against Iran on a 2-1 aggregate score and qualified for the 2002 World Cup. McCarthy had become only the second team manager to steer Ireland to a major football championship final competition.

2002 World Cup & The Saipan Incident

What should have been a unifying celebration of Irish football was blighted by the infamous Saipan Incident that involved a major row between Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, and Irish captain Roy Keane. This sorry episode is dealt with in great detail elsewhere in this site.

Ireland took to the field in the first group match on 1st June 2002 against one of the strongest African teams, Cameroon, with inspirational captain Roy Keane. Despite Keane's absence and finding themselves 1-0 down in the first half the Irish team rallied in the second half and earned a creditable 1-1 draw.

The second match against Germany in Ibraki ended in an identical scoreline with Robbie Keane scoring an injury time equaliser. The third match was far more comfortable affair and Mick McCarthy's team won 3-0 through goals from Robbie Keane, Gary Breen, and Damien Duff.

Five points was enough for Ireland to make it to the knockout stages for an encounter with Spain. Yet again Ireland fell behind in this World Cup as Morientes scored after eight minutes. After the normally dependable Ian Harte missed a penalty it looked like Ireland were heading home however Robbie Keane converted Ireland's second penalty of the match in the last minute. This sent the match into extra time in which McCarthy's men dominated but could not score. In the ensuing penalty shoot-out Spain emerged victorious. Matt Holland, David Connolly, and Kevin Kilbane all missed their penalties and Ireland really were heading home.

Mick McCarthy Resigns as Republic of Ireland Manager

The 2002 World Cup was the most dramatic period for Mick McCarthy during his term as Republic of Ireland manager. The schisms caused by the Saipan Incident left McCarthy in a vulnerable position and it was crucial that Ireland got off to a good start in the 2004 Euro qualifiers. The exact opposite happened as the Irish were badly beaten 4-2 away to Russia. Worse was to follow when Switzerland beat Ireland 1-2 at Lansdowne Road. The clamour from the pro-Roy Keane camp became unbearable for Mick McCarthy and the FAI. In November 2002 Mick McCarthy resigned as Irish manager. While McCarthy's Irish football legacy will be blighted by the Saipan affair he has the distinction of being one, of only two, Irish managers to steer Ireland to the World Cup finals. Despite having to almost totally rebuild the Irish squad following Jack Chalton's term McCarthy raised Ireland's FIFA rankings from 54 to 13.

Mick McCarthy' Record as Irish Manager

Played
Won
Drew
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Win Ratio
68
29
20
19
112
66
43%

Home Team
Result
Away Team Date & Venue Competition
Ireland
0:2 (0:1)
Russia 27/03/1996 Dublin Friendly Match
Czech Republic
2:0 (0:0)
Ireland 24/04/1996 Prague Friendly Match
Ireland
0:1 (0:0)
Portugal 29/05/1996 Dublin Friendly Match
Ireland
2:2 (1:2)
Croatia 02/06/1996 Dublin Friendly Match
Netherlands
3:1 (1:1)
Ireland 04/06/1996 Rotterdam Friendly Match
USA 2:1
2:1 (0:0)
Ireland 09/06/1996 Boston Friendly Match
Ireland
2:2 (1:1)
Mexico 12/06/1996 New York Friendly Match
Bolivia
0:3 (0:3)
Ireland 15/06/1996 New York Friendly Match
Liechtenstein
0:5 (0:4)
Ireland 31/08/1996 Eschen-Mauren World Cup Qualifier
Ireland
3:0 (1:0)
FYR Macedonia 09/10/1996 Dublin World Cup Qualifier
Ireland
0:0 (0:0)
Iceland 10/11/1996 Dublin World Cup Qualifier
Wales
0:0 (0:0)
Ireland 11/02/1997 Cardiff Friendly Match
FYR Macedonia
3:2 (2:1)
Ireland 02/04/1997 Skopje World Cup Qualifier
Romania
1:0 (1:0)
Ireland 30/04/1997 Bucharest World Cup Qualifier
Ireland
5:0 (3:0)
Liechtenstein 21/05/1997 Dublin World Cup Qualifier
Ireland
0:0 (0:0)
Lithuania 20/08/1997 Dublin World Cup Qualifier
Iceland
2:4 (1:1)
Ireland 06/09/1997 Reykjavik World Cup Qualifier
Lithuania
1:2 (0:1)
Ireland 10/09/1997 Vilnius World Cup Qualifier
Ireland
1:1 (0:0)
Romania 11/10/1997 Dublin World Cup Qualifier
Ireland
1:1 (1:1)
Belgium 29/10/1997 Dublin World Cup Qualifier
Belgium
2:1 (1:0)
Ireland 15/11/1997 Brussels World Cup Qualifier
Czech Republic
2:1 (0:1)
Ireland 25/03/1998 Olomouc Friendly Match
Ireland
0:2 (0:2)
Argentina 22/04/1998 Dublin Friendly Match
Ireland
0:0 (0:0)
Mexico 23/05/1998 Dublin Friendly Match
Ireland
2:0 (2:0)
Croatia 05/09/1998 Dublin Friendly Match
Ireland
5:0 (2:0)
Malta 14/10/1998 Dublin Euro Qualifier
Yugoslavia
1:0 (0:0)
Ireland 18/11/1998 Belgrade Euro Qualifier
Ireland
2:0 (0:0)
Paraguay 10/02/1999 Dublin Friendly Match
Ireland
2:0 (0:0)
Sweden 28/04/1999 Dublin Friendly Match
Ireland
0:1 (0:0)
Northern Ireland 29/05/1999 Dublin Friendly Match
Ireland
1:0 (0:0)
FYR Macedonia 09/06/1999 Dublin Euro Qualifier
Ireland
2:1 (0:0)
Yugoslavia 01/09/1999 Dublin Euro Qualifier
Croatia
1:0 (0:0)
Ireland 04/09/1999 Zagreb Euro Qualifier
Malta
2:3 (0:2)
Ireland 08/09/1999 Ta'Qali Euro Qualifier
FYR Macedonia
1:1 (0:1)
Ireland 09/10/1999 Skopje Euro Qualifier
Ireland
1:1 (0:0)
Turkey 13/11/1999 Dublin Euro Qualifier
Turkey
0:0 (0:0)
Ireland 17/11/1999 Bursa Euro Qualifier
Ireland
3:2 (2:2)
Czech Republic 23/02/2000 Dublin Friendly Match
Ireland
0:1 (0:1)
Greece 26/04/2000 Dublin Friendly Match
Ireland
1:2 (1:2)
Scotland 30/05/2000 Dublin Friendly Match
Ireland
2:2 (0:1)
Mexico 04/06/2000 Chicago Friendly Match
USA
1:1 (0:1)
Ireland 06/06/2000 Boston Friendly Match
Ireland
2:1 (1:1)
South Africa 11/06/2000 New York Friendly Match
Netherlands
2:2 (0:1)
Ireland 02/09/2000 Amsterdam World Cup Qualifier
Portugal
1:1 (0:0)
Ireland 07/10/2000 Lisbon World Cup Qualifier
Ireland
2:0 (1:0)
Estonia 11/10/2000 Dublin World Cup Qualifier
Ireland
3:0 (1:0)
Finland 15/11/2000 Dublin Friendly Match
Cyprus
0:4 (0:2)
Ireland 24/03/2001 Nicosia World Cup Qualifier
Andorra
0:3 (0:1)
Ireland 28/03/2001 Barcelona World Cup Qualifier
Ireland
3:1 (2:1)
Andorra 25/04/2001 Dublin World Cup Qualifier
Ireland
1:1 (0:0)
Portugal 02/06/2001 Dublin World Cup Qualifier
Estonia
0:2 (0:2)
Ireland 06/06/2001 Tallinn World Cup Qualifier
Ireland
2:2 (1:0)
Croatia 15/08/2001 Dublin Friendly Match
Ireland
1:0 (0:0)
Netherlands 01/09/2001 Dublin World Cup Qualifier
Ireland
4:0 (2:0)
Cyprus 06/10/2001 Dublin World Cup Qualifier
Ireland
2:0 (1:0)
Iran 10/11/2001 Dublin World Cup Qualifier
Iran
1:0 (0:0)
Ireland 15/11/2001 Tehran World Cup Qualifier
Ireland
2:0 (2:0)
Russia 13/02/2002 Dublin Friendly Match
Ireland
3:0 (1:0)
Denmark 27/03/2002 Dublin Friendly Match
Ireland
2:1 (1:1)
USA 17/04/2002 Dublin Friendly Match
Ireland
1:2 (0:1)
Nigeria 16/05/2002 Dublin Friendly Match
Ireland
1:1 (0:1)
Cameroon 01/06/2002 Niigata WORLD CUP 2002
Germany
1:1 (1:0)
Ireland 05/06/2002 Ibaraki WORLD CUP 2002
Saudi Arabia
0:3 (0:1)
Ireland 11/06/2002 Yokohama WORLD CUP 2002
Spain
1:1 aet (1:1, 1:0) 3:2 Pen SO
Ireland 16/06/2002 Suwon WORLD CUP 2002
Finland
0:3 (0:1)
Ireland 21/08/2002 Helsinki Friendly Match
Russia
4:2 (2:0)
Ireland 07/09/2002 Moscow Euro Qualifier
Ireland
1:2 (0:1)
Switzerland 16/10/2002 Dublin Euro Qualifier

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