Mick McCarthy has given the Republic of Ireland a boost after confirming that he will stay in charge of the national side until his contract expires in 2004.

There were fears that McCarthy might walk away from his post in the wake of Ireland’s penalty shoot-out defeat to Spain yesterday.

“We were aware that he was seriously considering his position after the Roy Keane affair, and it is good for Irish football that he is staying on,” said an Irish FA official.

The spokesman added: “We are delighted that Mick has agreed to stay in charge for another two years.”

McCarthy, who replaced Jack Charlton in 1996, had hinted that he may quit when the team were knocked out of the tournament but after receiving the full backing of the FAI over the Roy Keane affair, he has decided to honour his contract.

McCarthy’s decision to stay is bad news for Roy Keane. It is inconceivable he will play for the Republic while McCarthy remains in charge.