29/07/2003

McIlroy awarded extension to contract

Northern Ireland football team manager Sammy McIlroy has been rewarded with a two-year extension to his current contract following a meeting of the IFA's international committee.

The new deal, which will see McIlroy take his new crop of youngsters into the 2006 World Cup campaign, comes despite his side's failure to score in 972 minutes of action.

However a draw against Spain in June went a long way in persuading the IFA to reward McIlroy with the new contract.

Support from both fans and players alike, something previous managers, Lawrie McMenemy and Bryan Hamilton never received, have also been instrumental in keeping Sammy in the hot seat.

Following Monday night's meeting, he said: "A lot of people realised things may not have run smoothly - that is probably an understatement.

"But you put that all behind you. I have never wavered. Obviously you get disappointments but the players and fans' backing makes me more determined to get it right."

Northern Ireland have three games remaining in their current Euro 2004 qualifying campaign against Ukraine, Armenia and Greece before preparation begins for the 2006 World Cup campaign.

(MB)

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