Brian Kerr (football manager)

This article is about the Irish football manager. For the Scottish footballer, see Brian Kerr (footballer).
Brian Kerr
Personal information
Full name Brian Kerr
Date of birth (1953-03-03) 3 March 1953[1]
Place of birth Dublin, Ireland
Teams managed
Years Team
1986 Drogheda United (assistant manager)
1986–1996 St Patrick's Athletic
1997–2003 Republic of Ireland U16, U18, U20
2003–2005 Republic of Ireland
2009–2011 Faroe Islands

Brian Kerr (born 3 March 1953) is an Irish football manager. Born in Dublin, Kerr grew up playing football and boxing. At the age of 13, he took his first coaching role with the Crumlin United under-11 side. Realising later that he didn’t have the talent to become a top player, he decided to focus on coaching. In 1986, he was appointed manager of the League of Ireland side St Patrick's Athletic. In 1992, when the club was facing liquidation, Kerr was among the investors who raised IR£82,000 to help save the club. In December 1996, he left St. Pat's to become the technical director of the Football Association of Ireland, but he is still idolised by the St. Pat's fans. He worked with the Republic of Ireland youth squads and also with the senior side. He was appointed as the full-time manager of the senior Ireland team on 26 January 2003. In 2007, Kerr became the Director of Football of St. Patrick's Athletic. Then, in 2009, he was confirmed as the head coach of the Faroe Islands national team.[2] He left that post in October 2011.

Early days

Kerr was born in Dublin, growing up in Drimnagh, a suburb in south west Dublin. He began playing football for noted schoolboy side Crumlin United along with future world champion athlete Eamonn Coghlan. He also boxed with Drimnagh Boxing Club as his father, the internationally-famous many-time Irish Amateur bantamweight champion Frankie Kerr, was a coach there. At age 13, Kerr took his first coaching role when appointed to the Crumlin United under-11 side. He gained employment in University College Dublin as a trainee technician, while following his football interests. Kerr, although playing for Shelbourne F.C. B team, realised he did not possess enough talent to make it to the top as a footballer and at an early age decided to concentrate on coaching.

He was then invited by Liam Tuohy to manage Shamrock Rovers B side in 1974. Kerr managed the Irish Technical Schools team during this time. He was reserve team manager at Shelbourne in 1978 and after a stint playing for Bluebell United, he was appointed assistant manager at Shels in 1983. The following season he moved to Home Farm where he was involved in a bizarre incident, involving a pig and a flag pole in November 1984.[3]

Kerr coached under Liam Tuohy with the Irish youth side that reached the World Cup finals in 1985. He resigned in April 1986.[4] Soon after he was appointed assistant manager at Drogheda United under Mick Lawlor (footballer) but left following Lawlor's resignation in November 1986.

St. Patrick's Athletic

In December 1986, Kerr was appointed manager of League of Ireland side St Patrick's Athletic. Kerr told reporters that as a fan of St. Pats, this appointment was a "dream come true". Within 3 weeks Kerr had won his first senior trophy as St. Pats won the Leinster Senior Cup. It was the Inchicore side's first trophy in a decade. Traditionally one of Ireland's poorer clubs, Kerr immediately set about rebuilding the squad on a shoe string budget. He acquired several players from junior and schoolboy football (such as future international Curtis Fleming) and rescued others from reserve leagues. This included John McDonnell, who went on to become manager of the club himself. St. Pats drew 1–1 with Dundalk F.C. in the last game of the 1987/88 season when a win would have seen St. Pats gain their first league title since 1956. In 1990, Kerr led St. Pats to that long cherished league championship.

As financial troubles hit St. Pats, Kerr was forced to offload his star players and all bar John Treacy left by 1993. In 1992, with the club facing liquidation, Kerr was among a group of investors (many of whom re-mortgaged their houses) who raised IR£82,000 which helped save the club from extinction. Once again Kerr was left the job of rebuilding a totally new squad and once again he showed he was more than capable as St. Pats won the league again 1996. In December 1996, he shocked St. Pats by quitting to become technical director of the Football Association of Ireland. Kerr is still idolised by fans of St Patrick's Athletic and most commentators attribute the further success the club have had largely down to the work started by Kerr.

Republic of Ireland Youth coach

As part of his technical director remit, Kerr was manager of Republic of Ireland sides from under-16 to under-20 level. His first major tournament was the 1997 World Youth Championships. Kerr surprised many commentators by bringing 3 players from the League of Ireland but was proved correct when Republic of Ireland won bronze medals by finishing third. The undoubted star of the Irish team was Damien Duff.

The following year Kerr guided Republic of Ireland to an unprecedented double by winning both the under-16 and under-18 European Championships. No Irish team had ever won a major trophy before (and none have won since). A number of the players involved would go on to win full international caps, such as Richard Dunne, John O'Shea and Robbie Keane. In 1999, Ireland were knocked out of the World Youth Championships by hosts Nigeria on penalties in the quarter final. He again qualified Ireland for the 2003 World Youth Championships before taking up the position of manager of the senior national side.

Republic of Ireland Senior Side

The first two matches of Ireland's qualification campaign for the 2004 European Championships in Portugal ended in defeat. The first was a 4–2 reverse away to Russia and the second a damaging 2–1 defeat at home to Switzerland. Mick McCarthy, who several months previously had taken the team to the knock-out stages of the 2002 World Cup, came under mounting pressure from fans and pundits alike and he resigned on 5 November 2002.

The Football Association of Ireland's (FAI) search for a successor took them past Peter Reid, Bryan Robson and Philippe Troussier and eventually led them to Kerr who was officially unveiled as Republic of Ireland manager on 26 January 2003. Despite the somewhat haphazard nature of his appointment[5] (several leaks meant that most media outlets had been alerted as to the FAI's decision days in advance of the official announcement and Troussier was only notified of his failure to land the post after a member of the public phoned him to commiserate),[5] Kerr was a popular choice for the position.[5]

His background in Irish domestic football and his record with the Irish youth teams at under-16 and under-18 level meant that he enjoyed considerable support from within the domestic game and commanded the respect of talents such as Damien Duff and Robbie Keane - players that Kerr had managed in that capacity.[5] Kerr enjoyed a reputation as one of the finest youth coaches in the world[6] and also had no connection to the Saipan controversy that had engulfed the Irish team at the previous year's World Cup which raised the possibility of a return to the squad for the talismanic Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane. Despite the positivity of his appointment, there were some who voiced doubts about his ability to manage at senior level.[6]

"Brian will ensure football thrives across the country, his interest won’t be in playing golf and opening pubs."

— Then-Bohemians manager Stephen Kenny, expressing his admiration for Kerr.[5]

Kerr faced a daunting challenge. His brief to take Ireland to the European Championships was compromised by the fact that the opening defeats left the team at the bottom of Group 10 and with a tough away tie to Switzerland still to come. The first competitive match of Kerr's tenure took place on 29 March 2003 in what would turn out to be a tempestuous game in Tblisi versus Georgia. Ireland won the match 2–1, a Gary Doherty goal six minutes from time securing the three points, but The Observer lamented "disgraceful scenes" as several Irish players were struck by missiles hurled from the crowd.[7] No serious injuries were incurred and Ireland's campaign had its first win.

Five days later the side travelled to Tirana to meet an Albania that, although they had just recorded a historic win against group leaders Russia, were not expected to provide too stiff a test. In a game of few chances, Ireland failed to build on the momentum generated by the Georgia result and the game finished 0–0.[8] This meant that qualification remained a difficult prospect however hopes were boosted by the news that Switzerland had dropped two points by drawing in Tblisi.[8]

On 7 June 2003, in Kerr's first competitive home match, Ireland welcomed Albania in the return fixture. Ireland secured a 2–1 win thanks to an injury time own goal from Albania's veteran defender Adrian Aliaj but they were deemed fortunate to emerge as winners given that Albania appeared the more technically accomplished side with their midfield often outnumbering that of the visitors. Nevertheless, the three points were Ireland's and after Switzerland and Russia drew their match in Basel there was renewed optimism that Ireland could qualify and even top the group.[9] Further evidence that Kerr was initiating a remarkable turnaround in form was provided by the 2–0 victory over Georgia at Lansdowne Road on 11 June 2003. Even though the team were deprived of star player Damien Duff through injury, Ireland turned in an aggressive and compact performance based on thwarting the Georgians' more technical style and ensured victory via goals from Gary Doherty and Robbie Keane. Switzerland remained in pole position in the group but Ireland now had 10 points out of 12 under Kerr and had given themselves a fair chance of qualifying if positive results could be gained from the upcoming ties with Russia and the Swiss.[10]

Russia arrived in Dublin for the 6 September clash with three points fewer than Ireland but with a game in hand. Anything less than a victory would be a serious blow to Ireland's qualification hopes. Damien Duff produced a moment of inspiration to fire Ireland into the lead after 36 minutes. The Chelsea forward embarked on a slaloming run past three Russian challenges before unleashing a 25-yard shot that deflected in off Victor Onopko. However seven minutes later the scores were level after Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given failed to collect a corner which allowed Sergei Ignashevich to steal in and divert the ball home from 10 yards. Russia's tactics effectively nullified Ireland - from whom Damien Duff proved the only realistic attacking outlet - and the game finished level.[11] Kerr's tactics in the match drew some criticism for the lack of creativity and an over-reliance on Duff to provide the inspiration necessary for unlocking defences.[11] Ireland remained second but the games in hand enjoyed by both Switzerland and Russia over them meant that a win away in Basel was vital if Ireland were to have any chance of qualifying. In the final game of the campaign, Ireland went down 2–0 to Switzerland due to goals from Hakan Yakin and Alexander Frei. The Swiss topped the group and qualified automatically. Russia's emphatic 4–1 win over the Swiss the previous month and then their 3–1 win at home to Georgia saw them secure the play-off spot. Ireland would not be going to the European Championships in Portugal.

Despite the disappointment in failing to qualify, hopes remained high that Kerr would be able to lead the Irish team to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.[12] Ireland were drawn in UEFA Group 4 - once again alongside Switzerland - but also with the formidable challenge presented by the 1998 World Champions France, with Israel, Cyprus and Faroe Islands rounding out the group. On 4 September 2004, the campaign got off to a positive start with a 3–0 home win over Cyprus, Clinton Morrison, Andy Reid and Robbie Keane the scorers. Four days later, Ireland returned to the scene of their previous campaign's elimination as they took on Switzerland in Basel. This time they were able to claim a 1–1 draw after Clinton Morrison opened the scoring with Hakan Yakin restoring parity for the home side.

Ireland's daunting away trip to France was next, on 9 October, but injuries and suspensions had deprived the French team of a core of their strongest players - Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Vieira and Claude Makelele among them - meaning that the possibility of an Irish victory was not remote. Boosted by the end of Roy Keane's international exile, Ireland turned in a committed and disciplined performance and emerged with a deserved point in a match that finished 0–0 with the French evidently still suffering from their poor performance at that Summer's European Championship.[13] The result was positively welcomed but Damien Duff remarked that on the balance of play Ireland could, and perhaps should, have collected all three points.[14] Five days later, this was followed by a 2–0 win over group minnows Faroe Islands at Lansdowne Road - a match in which Robbie Keane finally broke Niall Quinn's record of 19 international goals but otherwise was characterised by poor Irish finishing.[14]

At the next international break, on 26 March 2005, Ireland would take on Israel in Tel Aviv. Clinton Morrison put Ireland in front two minutes before the interval but, in what would result in the first serious criticism of Kerr's reign, Ireland then stood off their opponents in the second half and allowed Israel to regain a foothold in the game. Abbas Souan's last-minute equaliser ensured the game finished 1–1 and Ireland had dropped two extremely valuable points.[15] But it was in the return fixture in June of that year that saw Ireland's hopes for qualification take a serious blow and that some retrospectively remarked was the turning point for Kerr.[16] After racing into a 2–0 lead thanks to goals from Ian Harte and Robbie Keane, Ireland again eased off and allowed the Israelis back into the game. Avi Yehiel and Avi Nimni equalised before half-time and the result finished 2–2. The result was described as "devastating" by the Irish team and it now placed additional pressure on securing home wins against Switzerland and, ominously, France if qualification was to be assured.[17] A routine 2–0 win away to the Faroes four days later did little to lift hopes.

On 7 September 2005, Ireland welcomed France to Lansdowne Road. France were now a different proposition to the side that had drawn with Ireland in Paris the previous year and could now welcome back their first-choice players who had missed that game. Ireland produced a battling performance but, after 70 minutes and with the home side seemingly having run out of attacking ideas, they were powerless to prevent Thierry Henry's wonder strike which curled past Given from 25 yards out.[18] The result was a massive blow to Ireland's qualification hopes and they now had to hope to win their remaining games - away to Cyprus and at home to Switzerland - while hoping other results went their way.

Cyprus were dispatched 1–0 after an early goal from Stephen Elliott but in the home game against Switzerland, with qualification still a possibility, Ireland produced few chances. With 25 minutes remaining Kerr withdrew Robbie Keane - by now the country's record goalscorer - and the in-form Clinton Morrison, replacing them with Stephen Elliott and Gary Doherty. The gamble failed and the game finished 0–0. Ireland had again failed to qualify for a major tournament under Kerr.

Kerr faced vocal criticism from pundits for his conservative approach and rumours that Damien Duff was not happy with the manager's tactics.[19] Kerr was now out of contract and speculation emerged as to the merits of awarding him a renewal. Not long after the end of the qualification campaign, Kerr appeared on Irish television in an interview in which some observers said effectively mounted to him issuing a public plea for a new contract.[20] It was to no avail though as the FAI announced on 18 October 2005 that they would not be renewing his contract.[21] Despite the fact that the team had lost only once in qualification, Kerr's record of one defeat, five draws and just four wins had signalled the end of his tenure as Ireland manager, an eventuality that bitterly disappointed him. He was replaced as manager by Steve Staunton.

St. Patrick's Athletic Director of Football

In March 2007, Kerr returned to St. Patrick's Athletic football club, this time taking a position as Director of Football, a role to which he was appointed by new club owner Garrett Kelleher.[22] His duties at the club included technical support to the management team, as well as scouting of youth players. On 19 May 2008, Kerr announced his resignation from his role as director of football at St Pat's with immediate effect. Despite being strongly linked with a vacant managerial position at Cork City a number of months later, a return to Irish club management for Kerr was not to materialise.

Coach of Faroe Islands

On 6 April 2009, Kerr was confirmed as head coach of the Faroe Islands national football team.[2] He stated on the Irish talk show Tubridy Tonight that the Faroese language was '50% Norsk Bokmal, 50% Gaeilge'.

His first game as manager was on 10 June 2009 against Serbia in Tórshavn, in which they lost 2–0.[23][24] Apart from four players who played full-time in Denmark and another in Iceland, the rest of Kerr’s 22-man squad was made up of part-time players who were either working or studying.

"We have four carpenters, at least six full-time students – one of them had to fly to Copenhagen and back for an exam this week – two policemen, an accountant, one fella works in a sports shop, two teachers, Andreas works in a bowling alley, and he's doing a bit of carpentry as well. Simun is full-time in Iceland, Suni works in a fish factory, I think Frodi's a builder, Jakup is a teacher but he's on the town council as well, he's like a TD. That's kind of the run of it. The pool is quite limited, there's no one at Milan we've missed out on. The Granny Rule isn't much help either, the Faroese haven't been huge at emigration."

— Kerr's assessment of the Faroes squad.[23]

On 9 September 2009, the Faroe Islands won 2–1 against Lithuania in a 2010 World Cup qualifying game, their first World Cup qualifying win since September 2001.[25] On 17 November 2009, a documentary aired on RTÉ called Away with the Faroes, about Kerr taking over as the Faroes boss.

On 12 October 2010, the Faroe Islands drew 1–1 against Northern Ireland in a UEFA Euro 2012 qualifier for their first point of the qualifying campaign.[26] This point was built upon with a 2–0 win over Estonia on 7 June 2011, a first Euro qualifier win for the Faroes since their 1995 victory over San Marino. The win still left Faroe Islands bottom of the table, but with 4 points.[27] On 26 October 2011, Kerr stepped down as coach of the Faroese national team, after the Faroe Islands Football Association (FSF) announced that "it was not possible to agree a new contract with Brian Kerr".[28] "I gave it the best I could and I spent a lot of time away. I'm happy enough that we moved forward in the last three years and we had some very special days", he said on leaving.

Other work

Kerr currently works as a studio analyst and co-commentator for RTÉ Sport, TV3 and Setanta Sports. On 21 August 2016, while commenting on the Burnley vs Liverpool match, he stated the following: "I must say about Klavan, they surprised me when they signed him. He plays for Estonia, he has about 120 caps. He played against the Faroes when I was in the Faroes and I remember studying him before the match and thinking he was a bit of a weak link. I never thought he was a fella who would be playing for Liverpool in the Premier League. Maybe my judgement wasn't very good but we got three goals against him with the Faroes." This was confirmed to be completely untrue by the Estonian FA who replied to Kerr's allegations stating many inaccuracies as Klavan was not involved in the suggested game. As of 1 September 2016, Kerr is still yet to make a formal apology.[29]



St Patrick's Athletic
Republic of Ireland U-20
Republic of Ireland U-18
Republic of Ireland U-16


Managerial statistics

As of 28 March 2015
Team From To Record
Republic of Ireland January 2003 October 2005 33 18 11 4 54.55
Faroe Islands April 2009 July 2011 19 2 3 14 10.53


  1. "Brian Kerr - Irish Soccer Manager". Soccer Ireland. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  2. 1 2 "Kerr takes on Faroe Islands post". BBC Sport. 6 April 2009. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  3. The Irish Times – Wednesday, 28 November 1984
  4. The Irish Times – Wednesday, 9 April 1986
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 "The Life of Brian". When Saturday Comes. 1 March 2003. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  6. 1 2 "Kerr: a study in detail". The Guardian. 26 January 2003. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  7. "Georgia vs. Ireland". The Guardian. 29 March 2003. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  8. 1 2 "Albania vs. Ireland". BBC Sport. 3 April 2003. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  9. "Ireland vs. Albania". The Guardian. 9 June 2003. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  10. "Ireland vs. Georgia". The Guardian. 12 June 2003. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  11. 1 2 "Ireland vs. Russia". BBC Sport. 6 September 2003. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  12. "The Gaffers". Google Books. 6 September 2003. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  13. "France vs. Ireland". BBC Sport. 11 October 2004. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  14. 1 2 "France vs. Ireland". The Guardian. 11 October 2004. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  15. "France vs. Ireland". When Saturday Comes. 11 October 2004. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  16. "Relief the main emotion". Irish Examiner. 28 March 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  17. "Ireland vs. Israel". The Guardian. 6 June 2005. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  18. "Ireland vs. France". BBC Sport. 7 September 2005. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  19. "Curtain closing on Kerr". The Guardian. 5 October 2005. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  20. "Cautionary Tales". When Saturday Comes. 11 October 2004. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  21. "Kerr is axed as Republic manager". BBC Sport. 18 October 2005. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  22. "Kerr back in game with St Pat's". BBC Sport. 13 March 2007. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  23. 1 2 "Kerr has taken to the Islands". Irish Times. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  24. "Serbia eye finals after beating Faroe Islands 2–0". The Guardian. London. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  25. "Faroe Islands 2 – 1 Lithuania". ESPN. 9 September 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2009.
  26. "Kerr delighted with Faroe result". RTÉ Sport. 12 October 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2010.
  27. "Faroe Islands 2 – 0 Estonia". RTÉSport. 7 June 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  28. "Brian Kerr steps down as coach for the Faroese National Team". UEFA. 26 October 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  29. Slattery, Will (22 August 2016). "'We got three goals against him with the Faroes' - Brian Kerr slates Liverpool defender after dismal display". Irish Independent. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
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