U21s Head Coach Jim Crawford agrees new contract

U21s Head Coach Jim Crawford agrees new contract

Republic of Ireland Under-21s Head Coach Jim Crawford has agreed a contract extension with the Football Association of Ireland until the end of the 2025 UEFA European Under-21 Championship campaign.

Jim is joined by Assistant Coaches Alan Reynolds, who is part of the FAI Cup winning Derry City coaching staff, and former Ireland captain John O’Shea who earned 118 international caps and is a first team coach with Stoke City. Both have agreed extensions with the FAI for the upcoming campaign.

The renewals follow a record-breaking season for the Ireland U21s, who reached the play-offs for the first time and have rose to 19th spot in the UEFA rankings - Ireland's highest ranking at that age grade.

Additionally, since 2021, six U21 players have earned call-ups to Stephen Kenny’s senior squad - Conor Coventry, Lee O’Connor, Festy Ebosele, Andrew Omobamidele and more recently Will Smallbone and Evan Ferguson.

Speaking about his contract renewal, Republic of Ireland Under-21s Head Coach Jim Crawford said: "To be Head Coach of the Under-21s team is a huge privilege, so to renew my contract is something I'm very proud and excited about.

"It gives me and my staff a further campaign to help develop the next generation of players and ready them for senior international football. This represents success for us with the view that development leads us to a European Championship.

"Work is already underway for the next campaign and we look forward to the draw for the Under-21 qualifiers in February."

FAI CEO Jonathan Hill added: "We are delighted to extend Jim's contract after an excellent Under-21 campaign where he and the team achieved so much. We are also very happy that we are able to extend Alan and John's positions with the Association and to keep the team together.

“We all shared the excitement of that run to the play-offs and there were some memorable wins for Jim over Sweden, both home and away as well as generally excellent performances in Tallaght Stadium in front of a support that grew game-by-game.

“In Jim, we feel we have a talented and experienced Under-21s Head Coach who will continue to nurture the talents of our young players to reach senior international levels."

Director of Football Marc Canham said: "Jim has an excellent track record of developing players for the future and it is great news to have him, Alan and John extend their contracts with the Association.

"The Under-21s' success on the pitch last season, added to the number of players who were promoted from that level to the senior team, shows the right platform is being created to transition players to the elite level of the game both domestically and on the international stage."

Jim, a former Ireland Under-21s international who earned three caps, began his FAI coaching journey in 2008 as an FAI Development Officer in South Dublin. His experience developing up-and-coming players in the Emerging Talent Programme, in addition to coaching with Shamrock Rovers, Waterford and Bray Wanderers academies, saw him become the Assistant Manager of the Men’s Under-19s side in 2011 under Paul Doolin.

His progression at international level led to his appointment as Head Coach of the Men’s Under-18s team in 2016 - a spell that included wins over the Netherlands and Belgium.

In 2019, Jim joined Stephen Kenny’s U21s backroom team and was promoted to U21s Head Coach the following year.

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