Mick Kearney will be announced as Ireland manager later today. It brings an end to a search that has all the signs of being painful for the IRFU.
The trouble started with Paul McNaughton deciding he would not be continuing after the World Cup. That seems quite a while ago now. Yet lead-in they have struggled to fill the gap left by someone who ticked the three boxes: coping with Declan Kidney; managing the players; interfacing with the IRFU.
McNaughton managed all three successfully. By a distance the hardest part to pull off with that three card trick is the relationship with Kidney.
Kearney was not the union’s first choice to do it. Rather Jerry Holland was their first port of call, primarily because of his good relationship with the coach. However he knocked them back a few weeks ago just as they were about to interview him along with Kearney and Ulster’s Joe Miles.
That left them running with a ball they didn’t really want to carry.
Kearney’s background is as a successful businessman and lifelong Lansdowne man. His experience of managing rep teams outside the club has been with Leinster A and Ireland under 20s, who he has been with for two seasons.
This is an altogether tougher gig. I spoke to an Ireland player last week about what he wanted in a manager and he had two criteria: offering advice it was needed; and providing things to do for them when they are away from home and bored. If only it were that simple.
Kearney is about to find out the complexities of life serving these three masters. Good luck to him.