Brian Kerr – Irish Soccer Manager
In January 2003 Brian Kerr became the manager of the Republic of Ireland football team following the resignation of the former Irish manager Mick McCarthy. McCarthy had been under pressure following the Saipan Incident. A very poor start in the opening matches of the Euro 2004 qualifiers had also seriously undermined his position and he resigned in November 2002 under pressure from the FAI.
McCarthy’s demise led to the fulfilment of a cherished dream of Brian Kerr. He had been the most successful manager of Republic of Ireland at underage level and craved the opportunity to manage the senior team.
Brian Kerr Football Background
Brian Kerr was born in Dublin on 3rd March 1953. He played schoolboy football for the famous Dublin team Crumlin United but he never played at a high level as an adult. He did have stints with Shelbourne FC B’s and with Bluebell United.
Kerr had always been passionate about football and started coaching the Crumlin United Under-11s when just 13 years of age. His first involvement in coaching in the League of Ireland was with the Shamrock Rovers B side at the invitation of Liam Tuohy in 1974. Kerr’s day job was that of a laboratory technician at University College Dublin – a job he held for 25 years.
He was also involved in other coaching and management roles with Home Farm and Drogheda United.
Brian Kerr – Republic of Ireland Youth Teams Manager / Coach
In 1982 Liam Tuohy appointed Brian Kerr to his backroom staff at the under age levels with the Republic of Ireland. Following and incident involving Jack Charlton, Tuohy and Kerr felt that they had been undermined and could no longer stay in their positions. Kerr became manager of St Patrick’s Athletic and won the league championship in 1990 and 1996. In December 1996 he resigned from St Pats and took up the role as technical director of the FAI.
In this role he was also the manager of the Irish teams from Under-16s to Under-20s. His first major success at under age level was when the Republic of Ireland took third place in the World Youth Championships in 1997 in Malaysia. The squad for this tournament included future senior international Damien Duff. In 1998 Brian Kerr achieved an amazing double with his Under 16s and Under 18s teams. Both teams claimed European Championship victories. No Irish football team had ever won a major championship at any level yet Brian Kerr delivered two trophies in one year. Kerr followed this up by managing Ireland to Youth Olympics gold in Spain three years later.
Brian Kerr as Republic of Ireland Manager
Brian Kerr was appointed to the position of Irish football team manager in January 2003 as a successor to Mick McCarthy. Because of his success with at youth level his appointment was roundly welcomed.
Brian Kerr’s First Match as Irish Manager
In his first match in charge Brian Kerr’s Ireland team met Scotland in friendly encounter in Glasgow. Kerr made the perfect start with an impressive 0-2 victory over the Scots. His first competitive match was an awkward tie against Georgia in Tiblisi in a Euro 2004 qualifier on the 2nd of April 2003. Damien Duff and Gary Doherty provided the goals in a 1-2 victory. Results and performances were mixed for the rest of the campaign and in the end a home draw with Russia and an away loss to Switzerland left the Irish in third place in the group.
Brian Kerr Persuades Roy Keane to Play for Ireland Again
Roy Keane hadn’t played for Ireland since the infamous Saipan affair in 2002 and despite overtures from Brian Kerr when he first became manager of Ireland Keane had ruled out any possible return. Persistence paid off for Kerr as eventually Keane relented and came out of international retirement. He made his return on 27th May 2004 in a friendly against Romania at Lansdowne Road (now the Aviva Stadium) in a 1-0 home victory.
Keane appeared in a second friendly against Bulgaria later that year in August. This is noteworthy because, with the exception to the build up to the 2002 World Cup finals, Keane never played more than one friendly in any of the years that Mick McCarthy was Irish manager.
In total Roy Keane played nine games under Brian Kerr, three of which were friendlies.
2006 World Cup Qualification Campaign
In the previous campaign Brian Kerr could point to the fact that Ireland had lost it’s opening two matches before he became the Irish manager and that he had done well to get the team back into contention. The 2006 World Cup qualifiers would all Brain Kerr’s own work. His chances of qualification were greatly improved by the return of Roy Keane. The group started off well for Ireland and Kerr with two home wins over Cyprus and the Faroe Islands, and three away draws against the main threats in the group, France, Switzerland, and Israel. Unfortunately Ireland’s hopes of qualifying were dashed by poor home form. Draws against Israel, having led by two goals, and Switzerland, were compounded by defeat at Lansdowne Road to France. Ireland finished fourth in the group behind France, Switzerland and Israel.
Brian Kerr Ends his Term as Republic of Ireland Manager
Despite the fact that Ireland only lost one match in the World Cup campaign the way in which the team ended up, drawing matches that they should have won, did not site easily with the fans, the media, and crucially the FAI. The Irish manager’s contract with the FAI only extended to the end of the World Cup campaign.
Despite his use of the media, including and emotional interview on RTE’s Late Late Show with Pat Kenny, he was not offered a further contract by the FAI and Brian Kerr’s reign as Republic of Ireland manager came to a definitive end in October 2005
Brian Kerr’ Record as Irish Manager
It is an interesting footnote that Brian Kerr has the best win ratio of any Irish manager (with the exception of Alan Kelly Snr who only managed for one match). Kerr also has the best loss ratio. His problem was that he simply drew too many competitive games i.e. 50%.
Republic of Ireland Football Managers – Irish Manager’s Records
Mick Meagan – Liam Tuohy – Sean Thomas – John Giles – Alan Kelly Snr – Eoin Hand – Jack Charlton
Irish Football Players
John Aldridge – George Best – Packie Bonner – Liam Brady – Shay Brennan – Noel Cantwell – Johnny Carey