Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill has sarcastically applauded the Republic of Ireland’s call-up of Burnley defender Jimmy Dunne. O’Neill spoke to the centre-back, who is currently on loan at Hearts, about playing for him after learning that Dunne had a grandparent from Northern Ireland.
But namesake Martin O’Neill seems to have got wind of the plan and called Dunne up to the full Irish squad this week. The Republic of Ireland boss admitted earlier that the North’s reported interest in Dunne was a factor in the 21-year-old’s call-up to his provisional party for Thursday’s friendly between the sides and the UEFA Nations League game in Aarhus.
“Jimmy is a player at Hearts where one of my coaches (Austin McPhee) is the assistant manager and he’s represented by Colin Murdock who Jonny Evans’ dad works for so there is a lot of contact,” said Michael O’Neill.
“We knew Jimmy had a grandparent from Northern Ireland. I had a conversation with Jimmy in Edinburgh, he lives 10 minutes away from me. I told him if it was something he wanted to explore then great but it’s a massive decision and I told him I wouldn’t expect him to make the decision lightly.
“As a result of that he’s got picked for the Republic of Ireland… so he owes me two cappuccinos. Seriously though, I’m delighted for him. To be called up after 15 minutes of U-21 football – he must have been very good in those 15 minutes.”