A history of Ireland's caretaker managers

Stephen Kenny and Noel King.

Stephen Kenny and Noel King. Credit: Conor Ryan (ETPhotos)

After the FAI announced the appointment of John O’Shea as Caretaker Manager of the Irish Men’s National Team, extratime.com looked into all of the previous Caretaker Managers who came before.

Sean Thomas

The first Caretaker Manager of the Republic of Ireland National Team was then Bohemians manager Sean Thomas who took over from Liam Tuohy in 1973 following his resignation from the position.

His time as a player was short lived, retiring at an early age due to an injury sustained with Home Farm in Dublin.

Thomas’ time at the helm would be short, taking charge for just one match, a friendly against Norway in Oslo, which finished in a 1-1 draw. John Giles became player/manager after this match.

Sean Thomas found success in his domestic managerial career, winning the League of Ireland with Shamrock Rovers in 1964. On top of that he won the League Cup and two FAI Cups with the Hoops. He added another FAI Cup to his tally with Bohemians before departing for the Irish job.

Don Givens

A poor start to the Euro 2004 qualifying campaign led to Mick McCarthy departing from the Irish job, opening the door to Don Givens to take the reigns of the Ireland team in a temporary role.

Givens, a former Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers forward, had been capped 56 times by the national team scoring 19 times.

Just like Sean Thomas who came before him, this stint resulted in only one match as manager for Givens, a 0-0 draw in Athens away to Greece.

This was not the end of Don Givens time as Republic of Ireland manager, however.

A failure to qualify for the Euro 2008 competition led to the termination of Steve Staunton’s contract by the FAI. Don Givens was once again Irish manager in an interim position, getting double the number of matches than he did in his last period in charge of the national team.

In the meantime, Givens had been managing the under 21 side, who he went on to manage from 2000 until 2010 when he stepped down from the job.

His first match back as MNT manager was his only competitive fixture, getting a 1-1 draw with Wales, in the final Euro 2008 qualifier. The second game Givens was in charge of was a friendly match with Brazil in Lansdowne Road, where the visitors came out 1-0 victors.

Noel King

Noel King took charge of the Ireland squad in 2013, following the departure of Giovanni Trapattoni, who was having a disastrous 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.

The FAI’s announcement that there would not be an immediate, permanent replacement for Trapattoni, and therefore putting Noel King in charge of the MNT for the remaining games of the World Cup qualifiers.

King, born in Dublin, spent most of his playing career in Ireland, with the exception of a brief spell with Ligue 2 side Valenciennes in France.

His first game was the toughest of the two, with an away journey to Cologne to face Germany, which ultimately resulted in a 3-0 loss to the eventual World Cup champions.

In his second and final match as Ireland boss, they hosted Kazakhstan in the final match of the qualifying stage, this time Ireland emerged victorious, getting a 3-1 win to close out a campaign to forget.

King was most recently manager of Shelbourne’s Women’s side from 2021 until 2023, winning back-to-back Women’s Premier Division titles and an FAI Women’s Cup with Shelbourne in that time.

There’s a couple of connections between King’s time as caretaker manager and O’Shea taking up the mantle – the new interim boss actually scored one of his three international goals that night against Kazakhstan.

Seamus Coleman also played for Ireland that night.

John O’Shea will get his two matches as the fourth Irish National team Caretaker Manager in March, in two home friendlies against Belgium and Switzerland in the Aviva Stadium.