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5 Irishmen That Managed Other Countries At International Level

5 Irishmen That Managed Other Countries At International Level
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton Updated
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Down through the years, we have seen a couple of high profile overseas managers experience success in charge of the Republic of Ireland. Jack Charlton is probably the finest manager our international team has ever had, while Giovanni Trapattoni also experienced some success during his time with the team.

While they are two examples of foreign managers taking over our national team, there have been a few cases of Irishmen going overseas to coach other countries.

It has not been a common occurrence, but there have been a handful of examples down through the years.

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5 Irishmen That Managed Other Countries

Chris Hughton - Ghana

Chris Hughton was a 53-cap Ireland international in his playing days, going on to act as assistant manager of the team under Brian Kerr.

He would embark on a managerial career of his own soon after, taking charge of Newcastle United, Birmingham City, Norwich City, Brighton, and Nottingham Forest.

Hughton would link up with Ghana, the country of his father's birth, as a technical director in 2022. He would be appointed as manager in February of last year, although that would prove to be a rather brief tenure.


The 65-year old was sacked last month after Ghana were eliminated in the group stages of AFCON, something that led to some rather unsavoury scenes.


Brian Kerr - Faroe Islands

9 August 2011; Faroe Islands manager Brian Kerr during a press conference ahead of his side's EURO2012 Championship Qualifier against Northern Ireland Faroe Islands Press Conference, Ramada Hotel, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Speaking of Brian Kerr, he had his own managerial stint abroad after his time with Ireland came to an end in 2005.

He would be appointed as the manager of Faroe Islands in 2009, spending two years in charge of the small north Atlantic nation.


Kerr would secure some big results during his time with the Faroe Islands, leading them to a first World Cup qualifier victory in eight years when they defeated Lithuania in 2009. He would also secure a first Euro qualifier win in 14 years by beating Estonia, as well as drawing with Northern Ireland during that campaign.

His first campaign with the side would be captured on camera in an RTÉ documentary titled Away with the Faroes.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner a few years ago, he said he still looks back fondly on his time in charge of the team.


There was this feeling I used to have whenever I’d get off the plane there. It was so spectacular, so gorgeous. And I used to think: ‘Imagine, they’re paying me for this gig!..

It’s such an amazing place and I’m sure it hasn’t changed much. Tourism is important to them but I don’t think it’s ever going to take off like in Iceland. And I don’t think they want that to happen either.

They want to retain the uniqueness and the unspoilt nature of the place. Yeah, I’ve love to go back there.

He would resign from the position in 2011.


Joe Kinnear - India & Nepal


A 26-cap Ireland international in the 1960s and 1970s, Joe Kinnear had a massively successful stint in charge of Wimbledon from 1992-1999.


While he is remembered for his exploits in club management, his first managerial roles came on the international stage.

Having initially had a short stint as an assistant at UAE club Al-Shabab after retiring as a player, he would go on to be appointed India manager in 1984.

After lasting just three months with them, he would take the Nepal job a three years later. Once again, it would prove to be a short and sweet stint in Asia as he lasted less than 12 months in the role.

His first full-time gig in the club game would come at Wimbledon five years later.

Frank O'Farrell - Iran 

Cork native Frank O'Farrell spent well over a decade playing in England with the likes of West Ham and Preston North End in the 1950s and 1960s, picking up nine Ireland caps along the way.

He would then move into management, starting out at Weymouth, Torquay, and Leicester City before he was given the Manchester United job in 1972. Replacing Matt Busby at Old Trafford, the move turned out to be a disaster and he was sacked after just 18 months in charge.

O'Farrell would have a short stint at Cardiff City soon after, before making the rather unorthodox move to manage Iran in 1974.

The Irishman would win his first seven games in charge and lead them to a gold medal at the Asian Games that year, as well as qualification for the Olympics.

He returned to the UK in 1976 to coach Torquay for a second time.

Joe McGrath - New Zealand

1966; Joe McGrath, Ireland Under 23 squad, during squad training. Ireland Under 23 squad training, Milltown, Dublin. Picture credit: Connolly Collection / SPORTSFILE

Dubliner Joe McGrath spent almost the entirety of his playing career in the League of Ireland, lining out for Dundalk, Drumcondra, and Limerick. He also had a spell with South Coast United in Australia, going on to retire in 1971 after a second spell in Limerick.

The former striker would move into management in the 1980s, spending an impressive 12 years in charge of the Republic of Ireland U17s side. He would also have a spell in charge of Kilkenny City during this period.

McGrath then made the rather unexpected move to manage New Zealand in 1997, leading their U17 side to a first ever World Cup before graduating to the senior job. The 'All Whites' would lose to Australia in a play-off for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, getting hammered 5-0 over two legs.

In fact, McGrath would leave his post just four games into the following campaign, taking charge of nine games in total. He left the role in order to take the Bohemians job, where he would sign four Kiwi players (Jason Batty, Dean Dodd, Raffaele De Gregorio, and Harry Ngata) at Dalymount Park.

That would prove to be an equally short managerial spell, with McGrath leaving after nine games in charge.

Speaking to the Irish Sun a few years ago, he reflected on his brief spell in charge of New Zealand.

The standard of the domestic competition was probably similar to the League of Ireland but it wasn’t as structured and travel was difficult because it’s such an elongated country.

And picking the national squad was difficult because you’d players here, there and everywhere.

I hadn’t really wanted to take on the senior team, I would have preferred to have waited for a few years when some of the younger players had come through but it’s hard to say ‘no’ when you’re asked.

After leaving Bohemians, his only other job in management would come during a second spell with Kilkenny City at the turn of the century.

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