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Kenny Shiels negotiating departure as Northern Ireland Women's manager with Irish Football Association  

Kenny Shiels guided Northern Ireland Women to their first major tournament last summer; the team were knocked out during the group stages, but it was considered a watershed moment for the sport in Northern Ireland; Shiels has a year remaining on his contract

Northern Ireland Women manager Kenny Shiels is set to leave his role
Image: Northern Ireland Women manager Kenny Shiels is set to leave his role

The Irish Football Association and Kenny Shiels are negotiating his departure as Northern Ireland women's manager, Sky Sports News understands.

It follows a hugely successful spell that saw Shiels and the players make history by qualifying for a first major tournament.

Northern Ireland reach the Euro 2022 finals in England last summer. Although they were knocked out at the group stage, it was considered a watershed moment for the national team and women's football in the country.

Shiels is set to leave despite having one year remaining on his contract. The Irish FA did not comment when contacted by Sky Sports News.

Shiels' has sometimes courted controversy during his time at Northern Ireland.

After a 5-0 defeat to England in April 2022, he attracted criticism for saying women are more "emotional than men" and do not react well to going behind in games after Northern Ireland conceded four goals in 27 second-half minutes.

He said: "I thought they were struggling a wee bit at times to open us up until the psychology of going two up. In the women's game, you'll have noticed if you go through the patterns, when a team concedes a goal they concede a second one within a very short period of time.

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"Right through the whole spectrum of the women's game, because girls and women are more emotional than men, so they take a goal going in not very well.

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Kenny Shiels later apologised for his comments after saying women were more "emotional" than their male counterparts

"So if you watch, if you go through the stats - which journalists love to do - go through stats and you'll see teams conceding goals in 18 and 21 minutes, and then in 64 and 68 minutes. They group them because that is an emotional goal.

"We conceded in 48, with three in seven minutes or three in nine on Friday [in a 3-1 defeat to Austria]. We were conscious of that when we went 1-0 down, we killed the game and tried to just slow it right to give them time to get that emotional imbalance out of their head.

"And that's an issue that we have - not just Northern Ireland - but all the countries have that problem.

"I shouldn't have told you that."

The 65-year-old apologised for his comments following a meeting with the Irish FA, while captain Marissa Callaghan issued a statement in which she said the squad "collectively stand by our manager" and explained that his comments were in relation to a pre-match meeting where the team's habit of conceding goals in quick succession was discussed.

Northern Ireland's director of women's football, Angela Platt, also backed Shiels after his comments, telling Sky Sports News: "We met with Kenny as soon as we could after the game, and that occurred yesterday morning. That was a full and frank conversation.

"Kenny has apologised for those comments and we accept that apology.

When asked if she felt Shiels' contrition drew a line under the matter, Platt said: "Yes, he has clearly been open and honest with us in terms of the intent of those comments. He meant no offence."

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