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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 October, 2003, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
McIlroy quits NI for Stockport

Sammy McIlroy's Northern Ireland finished bottom of their Euro 2004 group

Sammy McIlroy has been appointed as the new manager of Stockport County after resigning his post with Northern Ireland.

McIlroy, who is reported to have been paid 90,000-a-year with the Irish, is understood to have signed a three-year deal with the Hatters and was unveiled as County's new boss on Wednesday.

"It was a very difficult decision for me to make but this is another challenge for me at Stockport County," said McIlroy.

"Stockport have great ambition, the team has potential and I'm looking forward to working with the players.

"I always wanted to get back into club management and Stockport came along and offered me that chance."

Born: 02/08/1954
Played for: Man Utd, Stoke, Man City and Bury
NI caps: 88
Managed: Northwich Victoria, Ashton Utd, Macclesfield, Northern Ireland
NI record: Won 4, Lost 17, Drawn 7
IFA general-secretary David Bowen earlier confirmed McIlroy's departure.

"He has advised that his decision was based entirely on a growing desire to return to the day-to-day cut and thrust of club management," said Bowen.

"He emphasised that in his four years as manager he deeply appreciated the tremendous support that was given to him by the Association, his squad members and not least the supporters who have backed him all the way."

McIlroy hinted that unresolved issues, arising from Northern Ireland's 1-0 home defeat to Armenia last month, had affected his desire to step down from the international stage.

"The Northern Ireland job was the one I always wanted and I was very proud to be the manager," said McIlroy.

"But I have been feeling down because of circumstances I won't go into. Things happened after the Armenia game that destroyed me.

If Sir Alex Ferguson were running Northern Ireland at the minute he would find it difficult
Sammy McIlroy
"People close to me know what I mean and that will come out in the future. There is no way I could let the fans down and they've understood how I've been feeling of late."

McIlroy endured a miserable run of results with Northern Ireland, prompting his return to club management.

Last Saturday, Northern Ireland lost to Greece and finished bottom of their Euro 2004 qualifying group.

It was the first time in their history Northern Ireland failed to win a game in a qualifying series and they have failed to score in their last 13 matches.

John Hollins had been in temporary charge at Edgeley Park following the dismissal of Carlton Palmer.

BBC News' Conor Macauley
"McIlroy knew the time had come to step down"

Stockport boss Sammy McIlroy
"Stockport will get 100% commitment"

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