Stephen Kenny - I am now a part of the vision for the future of Irish football

Mon, Nov 26 2018

Stephen Kenny celebrating the FAI Cup win at the Aviva Stadium earlier this month Credit: Hugh de Paor

Brendan Graham reports from Aviva Stadium

Stephen Kenny met the media on Monday morning at the Aviva Stadium in his new role as Republic of Ireland Under-21 manager and senior manager in waiting.

In front of a packed press conference room, where 24 hours earlier Mick McCarthy had been unveiled as the new Ireland manager, the former Dundalk boss was introduced to the familiar faces of the Irish football media.

His new role will see him take charge of the Ireland under-21 team and will then step up to the role of senior team manager in August 2020. As well as being responsible for the fortunes of the under-21s over the next eighteen months, Kenny will also oversee the younger underage international teams working alongside FAI High Performance director Ruud Dokter and the current underage managers.

The Dubliner who guided Dundalk to four of the last five SSE Airtricity League titles has been rewarded for his recent success at domestic level, and indeed European club level, with his first role at international level and also a first job. with the FAI.

“It’s a huge honour to be firstly named as the under-21 manager and following that the senior job in August 2020,” said Kenny.

“I am perfectly happy with the arrangement and I’m delighted with how the week has gone albeit how busy it has been. It’s a perfect opportunity for me and my brief over the next two years is just with the unde- 21’s and I am hoping to do the role justice while I am here”.

“From Tim Mohan to Jim Crawford, Colin O’Brien, Paul Osam and Jason Donohue, there is already great work being done at underage level within the association and I am now here to help them nurture and to develop the future talent. I am now a part of the vision for the future of Irish football and I hope I can help to do my bit towards inspiring the future generation of Irish players.”

Kenny leaves Dundalk with a huge amount of fond memories with the Lilywhites. Having built up a close relationship with so many people at the club he said it was an extremely tough decision to leave the club but that the opportunity that has come his way was one he couldn’t afford to turn down.

“It was a real wrench to leave Dundalk Football Club; the players and staff were amazing. Honestly I was very reluctant to go anywhere and to leave what I had there would have to be something very special. It doesn’t get any more special than this and this opportunity is one that I could never have turned down. I had a great bond with everyone at Dundalk.”

When asked about his greatest achievement during his time at the club, Kenny was reluctant to pinpoint one but did make reference to the hugely impressive Europa League group stage qualification and credible performances from his team within the groups as well.

“I will let other people decide that; Europa League qualification and the performances after that within the groups were some of the major highlights but it was a hugely enjoyable time overall. There were naturally low points too but an incredible amount of fond memories from my time at the club as well.” 

There has been a lot of speculation over the last number of days since the FAI’s plan for the next few years was announced as to the finer details of the deal but Kenny confirmed today that the decision has been made and finalised that he will 100% take over from Mick McCarthy in the senior hot seat in August 2020.

Kenny initially stated that it had been agreed with himself that he would take over the position in 2020 but then when asked to clarify the detail somewhat more confirmed that he will be taking over in August 2020 and importantly that he has it in writing as well to extinguish any confusion.

“It has already been decided, the decision has already been made” stated Kenny regarding the arrangement.

“If Mick gets to the Euro’s I would be absolutely delighted and I will be absolutely delighted to then take over in August 2020. If Mick does well it would be great for the country, great for the association and most importantly great for Irish football.”

From a League of Ireland perspective, Kenny was asked about the possibility of seeing an increase in the number of domestic players becoming involved at that U21 level and having a strong knowledge of the youngsters within the league as well.

“There are lots of League of Ireland players that could possibly play for the under-21’s. I don’t want to start naming names and getting into that but Ali Reghba, Liam Scales, Darragh Leahy at Bohemians, Neil Farrugia are a few that come to mind off the top of my head.

"There are lots of League of Ireland players that could possibly play for the under-21’s but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Regarding SSE Airtricity League players possibly playing at senior level, he was also quite optimistic about the idea and agreed that an Irish player performing consistently will come into the equation.

“Time will tell on that one. I think if you are performing at Europa League level you have to come into consideration. Once players are Irish, if they are showing enough potential and are performing on a consistent basis they have to come into contention.”