Mick McCarthy's second tenure as Ireland manager didn't end in the manner he would have hope for. Having been appointed in 2018 with the sole goal of getting the team to Euro 2020, he would fail to finish in the top two of their qualifying group.
The performances under McCarthy were largely disappointing. Ireland scraped wins against Gibraltar (twice) and Georgia, but could not get a draw in Tbilisi and a failure to beat either of Denmark and Switzerland cost them an automatic qualification place.
There was the safety net of a play-off, something that had already been earned before the Euro qualifying campaign had even begun thanks to the UEFA Nations League.
He was originally supposed to take charge of the game against Slovakia, but the coronavirus pandemic put an end to that idea. Stephen Kenny was brought in as scheduled, with many feeling McCarthy should have been allowed to see out the remainder of the campaign.
Speaking after his appointment as Cardiff City manager was confirmed, McCarthy said he has no hard feelings over how the situation was handled.
I was disappointed because Covid struck. My disappointment was because my contract didn’t run over and above Covid.
That’s still going on. My contract ended in July and it was never going to be extended beyond that because I accepted Stephen was taking the job.
I left in April and was quite happy to let Stephen get on with it. I left quite happily. I was disappointed because I wanted to take the Slovakia game, but it just wasn’t feasible.
It was Stephen’s time. I have no anger, ire, or ill-feeling. It was a contractual issue. I have got unfinished business with football as opposed to any other job I’ve had before. I loved being back with Ireland and it was an absolute honour to manage them for the second time.
Of course, Ireland would lose that game in Bratislava on a penalties. As for McCarthy, he would have a short spell in Cyprus with APOEL Nicosia before moving to the Championship this week.