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10 Ex-Stephen Kenny Players Who Could Be Important To His Irish Plans

As Stephen Kenny gets comfortable in the Ireland hot seat, he will already be considering his scouting missions over the next few weeks.

Throughout his career, Kenny has transformed the games of many players and seen some move to the UK and even gain Ireland call ups.

We examine ten players who have played under Kenny who could either feature heavily or come back into contention. Some he managed at club level and others for the Ireland Under-21s.

stephen kenny ireland


James McClean

Both Kenny and McClean were at Derry City from 2008-2011. Kenny was manager when McClean swapped the Brandywell for the Stadium of Light, joining Sunderland and announcing himself on the international scene just months later.

Both have spoken highly of one another and this relationship looks set to continue into the Kenny regime. Kenny’s game could get more out of McClean whose role under Martin O’Neill and Mick McCarthy has been to add a physical edge, resulting in poor productivity at times.

However, under Michael O’Neill at Stoke, McClean has shown that he can create and score when given less of a defensive burden.



Sean Maguire

Sean Maguire joined Kenny’s Dundalk in 2015 following his release from West Ham United. After failing to score in 6 appearances at Oriel Park, Maguire joined Cork City where he thrived under John Caulfield, delivering the league title and securing an international call up.

This attention resulted in his move to Preston in 2017 where he has been switched between a wide role and centre forward position Despite not thriving under Kenny, the Kilkenny native could still be a player he sees as useful given his ability with the ball at feet and finishing prowess, two attributes that are hard to come by in the current Irish squad.


Richie Towell

A player who was transformed under Kenny, Towell had returned to Ireland from Celtic having played as a right back and defensive midfielder in their development set up.

Having bulked up and added serious athleticism to his game, Towell became a goal scoring box-to-box midfielder managing an impressive 55 goals in 129 appearances as well as two league titles during his time with Dundalk.

This form saw him sign for Brighton but has ended up in League Two with Salford City. It is unlikely Towell will dislodge the Premier League and Championship midfielders ahead of him but as a trusted Kenny player, he could remain on the radar.


Daryl Horgan

Like Towell, Daryl Horgan excelled under Stephen Kenny at Dundalk and was arguably the star of their Europa League exploits in 2016.

This form saw him receive an Ireland call up just a couple of months later as well as a move to Preston North End along with teammate Andy Boyle.

Horgan is exactly the type of player Kenny loves and that has thrived in his system, a small but powerful runner with good technical ability.

Horgan has never really put a foot wrong in an Irish shirt and given his countries lack of depth out wide, could be a trusted, alternative option for Kenny despite being snubbed by Mick McCarthy in the last campaign.


Michael Duffy

Michael Duffy is the type of winger that Kenny loves and would be a perfect fit for his system. He is arguably one of the best players in the League of Ireland at present and could offer an additional wide option in reserve.

Duffy is another prime example of a player who returned from the UK and transformed under Kenny.

Still only 25, Duffy declared for the Republic of Ireland having represented Northern Ireland at underage level, even receiving a call up in 2016, an indication that he has the calibre to play international football.


Pat Hoban

Many League of Ireland fans, not just Dundalk fans, will often call for the inclusion of Pat Hoban in Ireland squads. The Galway man is extremely prolific domestically but did struggle when he moved to the UK.

Despite Hoban’s record, he is still well down the pecking order of striking options and will fall further down with the likely promotion of some U21 attackers.

However, Hoban could still earn caps just like Glenn Crowe and Jason Byrne did under Mick McCarthy, Brian Kerr and Steve Staunton, two other players who enjoyed free scoring spells in the League of Ireland but were just a bit off international level. Having worked under Kenny, it could be an outside possibility.


Jayson Molumby

The current Ireland U21 captain, as appointed by Kenny, is a player beyond his years. His all action yet controlled and technical ability is something that the senior squad is screaming out for.

Having cut his teeth on loan at Millwall, where he has gained rave reviews, the Waterford man looks set for a quick acceleration into Kenny’s plans.

He fits the profile of a Kenny midfielder, box-to-box, with a physical edge and the ability to thread through important passes. Molumby could be pushing for a start under Kenny and could compliment the likes of James McCarthy and Conor Hourihane extremely well.


Adam Idah

Despite only a handful of first team games for Norwich, Adam Idah already has the physical build required for senior international football.

With an impressive goal scoring record at underage level, the Corkman is possibly the best all round striker Ireland have produced since Robbie Keane.

His pace, power, vision and finishing ability are excellent and Kenny always preferred him as the main man up front for the U21s despite older options and the likes of Troy Parrot, Michael Obafemi and Aaron Connolly also available. Despite still being quite raw, Kenny has gotten the best out of Idah and should continue to do so for many years to come.


Connor Ronan

Despite an a large amount of talented midfielders coming through the Under-21s like the aforementioned Jayson Molumby,  Jason Knight and Conor Coventry, Connor Ronan is one of the most likely to progress.

Having enjoyed a spell in Slovakia and Blackpool, the Wolves man was central to the way Kenny’s U21 side set up. Possibly the long awaited successor to Wes Hoolahan, Kenny’s maximising of Ronan’s raw talent could be something that continues into his reign as senior boss, especially if the 22-year-old can make some kind of a breakthrough at his parent club.


Dara O’Shea

With Aaron Connolly, Michael Obafemi and Troy Parrott all likely names to be seen in Kenny’s first squad, Dara O’Shea could be another who’s U21 form alone under Kenny could see him promoted.

These performances on top of a successful spell with Exeter City has seen the former St.Kevin’s defender break into the West Brom starting XI under Slaven Bilic.

Bilic has deployed O’Shea as a right back but Kenny could see him come in as the more youthful backup to John Egan, Shane Duffy and Ciaran Clark. O’Shea is another leader of the U21’s but given the fact that they have the likes of Conor Masterson, Nathan Collins and Liam Scales to choose from, O’Shea may be allowed to continue his rapid acceleration.


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Author: Nick Menezes

Nick is a soccer, GAA and rugby fanatic who has a worrying obsession with the Irish football team. His articles focus on Irish football and he also writes some light-hearted pieces, particularly quirky starting XIs.