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 Monday, 27 January, 2003, 13:59 GMT
Kerr a popular choice
Brian Kerr is likely to appoint Chris Hughton as his assistant
Kerr hopes to point the way ahead for Irish football

Brian Kerr's appointment as Republic of Ireland football boss is likely to bring some badly-needed respite to the country's harassed soccer governing body.

The Football Association of Ireland has been left reeling by a series of episodes kicked off by Roy Keane's dramatic exit from last year's World Cup.

But all the indications are that Kerr's appointment is going to be well-received by the vast majority of Irish football supporters who respect him for his achievements with the country's youth sides.

The 49-year-old's playing career was by his own admission "modest".

He didn't make it to League of Ireland level and spent the majority of his playing days with Leinster Senior League club Bluebell United.

Kerr's day job was that of a laboratory technician at University College Dublin where he worked for 25 years before taking a leave of absence after being appointed Irish youth manager in 1996.

Brian Kerr guided  Ireland to two European Championship triumphs at youth level
Brian Kerr: Remarkable underage record

His introduction to management came in the late 1970s and early '80s when he served as assistant manager at League of Ireland outfits Home Farm and Drogheda.

In 1982, Kerr's ability was spotted by then Ireland youth manager Liam Tuohy who appointed both him to his backroom staff.

However, Kerr's relationship with the Football Association of Ireland didn't always run smoothly.

In early 1986, he felt compelled to resign in sympathy from the positions after Liam Tuohy had quit his youth managerial role.

Tuohy had understandably been miffed after new senior boss Jack Charlton had stormed into the Irish dressing-room at half-time during a game against the England Youths and taken over the team-talk.

For a long time thereafter, Kerr felt somewhat on the outside as regards the Irish football hierarchy.

It was obvious Kerr was not a fan of Charlton's direct method of playing the game but amid the euphoria of Ireland's emergence as a football power, the Dubliner largely kept his thoughts to himself.

There is the small matter of Keane restoring ties with team-mates

Kerr's 10-year reign at St Patrick's Athletic saw him turn a club that had been in the doldrums from a couple of decades into a force in the League of Ireland.

His knowledge of the League of Ireland game was encyclopaedic.

One friend is convinced that Kerr has a photographic memory which proved useful when the Dubliner took over as Irish youth manager in 1996.

"He knew every promising schoolboy player both in Ireland and those in England and Scotland as well who would have been qualified to represent the Republic," says the friend.

Less than a year into his reign, Kerr was managing the Irish Under-20s to a remarkable third place in the World Championships in Malaysia.

Roy Keane fell out with previous Irish boss Mick McCarthy
Roy Keane: Kerr wants Keane to return
That squad included Blackburn star Damien Duff and others who played for Kerr's youth teams were Robbie Keane, Stephen Carr, John O'Shea and Richard Dunne.

In 1998, Kerr's Under-16 and Under-18 squads both claimed European Championship triumphs and live TV coverage of the latter final victory over Germany increased his profile within Ireland.

Duff, pointedly, spoke of Kerr's huge qualities as the FAI deliberated on choosing a successor to Mick McCarthy.

What Roy Keane makes of Kerr's appointment is another matter.

The Manchester United captain may feel that the demands of club football will make it impossible to make a return to the international scene.

Kerr's diligence

The fact that Ireland's next two crucial European Qualifiers in Georgia and Albania will be in late March and early April, close to vital Champions League dates could sway Keane's decision.

Then there is the small matter of Keane restoring ties with team-mates who witnessed his behaviour in Saipan.

However, Keane's main gripe with Mick McCarthy was over the lack of organisation in the Irish set-up.

If he takes a chance on Kerr, Keane is likely to have trouble finding fault with the boss' diligent approach.

Republic of Ireland coach Brian Kerr takes charge of the national team for the first time

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