• Irishman won a promotion from first team coach role earlier this week
  • Boss Stephen Robinson then tested positive for COVID-19 to leave him in charge in the technical area
  • First game was glamorous FA Cup Third Round tie at Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur
  • Coached his side to within 16 minutes of a historic upset in North London
  • Spurs had to bring Kane and Moura off the bench to knock the League One side out

POINTING THE WAY...Diarmuid O'Carroll (right) with Morecambe manager Stephen Robinson before the boss was laid low with COVID-19independent.ie

THAT was the week that was for Diarmuid O'Carroll.

On Tuesday the 34-year-old Sport Careers Agency client was named assistant manager at English League One side Morecambe.

That was a hugely significant step forward in the coaching career of the Irishman who began his playing days in the famous green and white hoops of Scottish giants Celtic.

Then during the week Morecambe boss Stephen Robinson tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced into self-isolation.

All of a sudden Diarmuid had to get his head around travelling to North London to pit his managerial wits against legendary Tottenham Hotspur coach Antonio Conte in Sunday's glamorous FA Cup Third Round tie.

O'Carroll was up against a coach who has won the Serie A crown with both Juventus and Inter Milan and the English Premiership title in charge of Chelsea.

Yet he was unfazed and incredibly after 33 minutes the side who lie 21st in the tough division that is England's League One soared ahead through Anthony O'Connor to lead at the break.

As the second-half wore on a staggering story crept ever closer and Morecambe were just 16 MINUTES away from sending their Premiership rivals tumbling out of the Cup.

Then Harry Winks struck to level the tie and now - with replays scrapped in the FA Cup this season - extra-time and perhaps a penalty shoot-out beckoned.

Conte had kept the likes of England skipper Harry Kane and Brazilian Lucas Moura on the bench but this was still a starting 11 that included the likes of Giovanni Lo Celso, Tanguy Ndombele and Delle Alli.

Eventually, the former Italy boss grew sick of his side's struggles and threw Kane and Moura into the action to seal a 3-1 win in the closing minutes and break Morecambe's hearts.

Afterwards Diarmuid stressed: "I've got to give full credit to the lads.

"They have come to a world class stadium and come up against world class players and pushed them and frustrated them for 74 minutes.

"Full credit also goes to the manager who set them up all week and the tactics and system worked a treat.

"We didn't keep the ball as well in the second-half but it was only when they brought the big boys on towards the end and when some of our players got tired.

"We were so close and we were probably just at the point of thinking that dreams come could come true but it wasn't to be.

"We were left a bit frustrated by the goals we conceded but overall the lads can be immensely proud of their achievements."

To put the challenge that faced stand-in gaffer Diarmuid and his team into context, they sit 58 league places behind sixth-placed Premiership side Spurs in English football's pecking order.

In monetary terms then consider this.

Morecambe's playing budget for last season was 2million GBP, their top earner was Scottish winger Josh McPake who was on loan from champions Rangers on a weekly wage of 4,100 GBP.

Spurs yearly playing budget was 100MILLION, a staggering 50 TIMES that of Morecambe with top earner Kane on an eye-watering 200,000 GBP per week.

So there was a real sense of pride as Diarmuid thanked the travelling army of over 2,500 fans who made the trip from North Lancashire.

He smiled ruefully: "It was fantastic to see them, hopefully they had a great time.

"Whether they came down this morning on the early buses, or they came down yesterday and had a little bit of a party, that's what you want.

"You fear coming down here that you maybe come down and get a bloody nose like some teams have done at big clubs, but in fairness to the boys, they did the opposite.

"They gave them a day out, they gave them excitement, they gave them our goal to take the lead.

"Ultimately there is disappointment because we go home without anything, but again we have to be proud, and hopefully the fans will be proud of that performance."

Earlier in the week Diarmuid reflected on his promotion within the Morecambe set-up.

After hanging up his boots and spending a brief spell in the States as Director of Coaching at Downtown Las Vegas Soccer Club O'Carroll worked as U18s Head Coach at Scottish Premiership club Motherwell.

That fostered the relationship with Robinson that sparked the move to Morecambe and Diarmuid reflected: ”It's brilliant to get the chance in the new role.

”From my point-of-view, I'm excited, I came in with the manager, ultimately came into a system as a First-Team Coach initially.

”So for me and I'm sure for the manager, not a whole pile will change from our day-to-day working.”

Striker O'Carroll had a season as a player at Morecambe and was a popular figure.

And he stressed: ”I'm delighted, it's a fantastic one for me, there is a bit of pride to have once been playing here, being First-Team Coach and now Assistant Manager.”

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