MICHAEL O'NEILL has voiced his annoyance at certain football figures hunting out players for the Republic of Ireland team despite them living in Northern Ireland.
Football players such as James McClean, Shane Duffy, Darron Gibson, Marc Wilson and Eunan O'Kane were born in Northern Ireland but currently play for the Republic of Ireland team - a notion that Michael O'Neill reportedly wants to put a stop to.
Speaking to The Irish Daily Mail, O'Neill said he was disappointed with the FAI's apparent transparency when it comes to looking for players for south of the border: "The FAI only ever approach one type of player: Catholic."
Immensely proud i am to be named RTE sportsperson of the year, an award that featured so many great Irish sports stars, To everyone that voted for me go raibh maith agat 💚🇮🇪.... 3 points today would be great way to celebrate ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/ubGPLu9a0c
— James McClean (@JamesMcC_14) December 17, 2017
Mr. O'Neill said he was aware of the importance of Mr McClean, winner of RTÉ's Sportsperson of the Year 2017, playing for the Republic of Ireland but took issue with younger talent being taken: "I don't have a problem with James McClean. He was 22 years of age, he knew what he wanted. I have a problem when it's a 16, 17 or 18 year old having to make a decision on his international future."
Mr. O'Neill planned to meet with Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill to reach an arrangement to stop the continuing trend of Northern Irish players deciding to play for the Republic of Ireland.
He said he would be putting forward plans with the ROI manager to stop the practice of younger players declaring for the Republic: "I hope that Martin and I can get some sort of gentleman's agreement whereby if a young boy has represented Northern Ireland at age 17 to 21, the FAI don't ask him to change."