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Monday 13 Mar 2023
O’Neill reveals backroom team for Euro 2024 qualifiers

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has named his backroom team for the UEFA Euro 2024 qualification campaign, which gets under way later this month.

O’Neill, who became Northern Ireland manager for a second spell back in December, revealed Jimmy Nicholl is to continue as assistant manager, while Aaron Hughes has been appointed as a senior coach and David Rouse as goalkeeping coach.

Also joining his backroom team are performance analyst Matthew Crawford as well as Diarmuid O’Carroll as a senior coach.

MORE: O’Neill applauds members of his new backroom team

Former Northern Ireland international Nicholl has been assistant manager since March 2015, initially working under O’Neill with the squad that reached UEFA Euro 2016 and then subsequently alongside Ian Baraclough, who vacated the managerial hotseat back in October.

Nicholl, who played at two World Cups for his country and won 73 caps, has extensive coaching and managerial experience. He has previously managed Raith Rovers (twice), Millwall, Dunfermline (caretaker), Hibernian (caretaker) and Cowdenbeath (twice).

In the past six years, while maintaining his role with Northern Ireland, he has been assistant head coach at Falkirk, assistant manager at Rangers, first team coach at St Mirren and assistant manager at Dundee.

Former Northern Ireland captain Hughes, who had earned a then record 112 outfield international caps by the time he retired in June 2019, captained his country 48 times. Since retiring from the game the 43-year-old has been concentrating on attaining his coaching badges and learning about all aspects of the game.

In March 2021 he joined the Irish FA as Elite Football Development Consultant to help develop talent and guide strategy. Back in November he was appointed as the association’s first Technical Director with the remit to focus on the continuous improvement of elite football through the creation of a high performance culture. The role covers men’s and women’s football.

New goalkeeping coach Rouse worked with O’Neill during his spell at EFL Championship club Stoke City (November 2019 until August 2022).

He has previously worked as a goalkeeping coach at Manchester United, Queens Park Rangers, Macclesfield Town, Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates and with the Chinese Taipei national team.

The 46-year-old was appointed goalkeeping coach at Stoke in December 2019. He left his position with the Potteries club back in November.

O’Carroll has been assistant manager at St Mirren since February 2022.

The ex-Crusaders, Cliftonville, Glenavon and Dungannon Swifts player, who also played for his hometown club Killarney Athletic, Home Farm, Celtic’s reserve team, Ross County, Morecambe, Airdrie and Icelandic side Valur during his career, previously worked for the Irish FA as club and community development officer and within its coach education department.

The 35-year-old has previously managed Crusaders’ women’s team, the Strikers, and Glentoran Women as well as Motherwell’s U18s and U20s. And he was first team coach and then assistant manager at Morecambe before switching to St Mirren.

Crawford, who has just been appointed as the Irish FA’s Lead Performance Analyst, has spent the past five years as the main analyst with the Welsh senior men’s team. He has been to two major tournaments with Wales - Euro 2020 and World Cup 2022 - and helped them gain promotion to League A of the UEFA Nations League in 2020.

He also has strong coaching credentials having previously coached youth teams at Carrick Rangers and Swansea City as well as Wales Under-14s and U16s. He was first team coach at Larne in 2020 and coached the club’s U16 and U18 teams.

As part of his new role with the Irish FA he will be responsible for overseeing performance analysis across Northern Ireland’s international teams, from the seniors down to the various underage teams.