Mick McCarthy has confirmed his resignation as manager of the Republic of Ireland.

McCarthy, who who led Ireland to the second round of this year’s World Cup agreed to step down after a meeting with the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) this afternoon.

‘He has taken the decision ‘in the best interests of the Irish team,’ said a statement on the FAI’s website.

‘McCarthy came to the decision as a result of… discussions with FAI officials and his advisers following Ireland’s defeat by Switzerland in the 2004 European championship qualifier at three weeks ago. ‘

McCarthy has come under increasing pressure since the eve of the World Cup finals when the Republic’s captain, Roy Keane, walked out of the Irish camp after a row with the coach.

Hostility between the parties has festered ever since and McCarthy’s position has been further undermined by a poor start to the EURO 2004 qualifying campaign which has seen Ireland endure successive defeats to Russia and Switzerland. The most recent qualifier in Dublin against Switzerland was notable for the pro-keane chanting among the supporters.

The FAI backed McCarthy throughout, but have agreed to his request to quit.

Ireland have a friendly against Greece in a fortnight, at which Under-21 boss Don Givens is expected to be named as caretaker-manager for that match. The FAI will then look for a replacement for McCarthy.

Former Leeds manager David O’Leary has already ruled himself out of the running for the job, but there are expected to be no shortage of candidates applying for the post. Among those believed to be interested are John Toshack, John Aldridge and Joe Kinnear.