Stephen Kenny has spoke for the first time since being appointed the new Irish senior manager as he looks forward to what will be an unprecedented and exciting rest of the year for the Boys in Green.
Kenny had been set to take over from Mick McCarthy in August following Euro 2020 however the cancellation of the tournament as well as the playoffs have meant that the former Dundalk boss has stepped into the role a little sooner than anticipated.
The former U21 manager will now lead Ireland not only in the playoff against Slovakia but also in the UEFA Nations League as well as the World Cup qualifiers.
Speaking to FAItv for the first time since his appointment, Kenny, who took the time to praise Ireland’s frontline workers during the current Covid-19 crisis, spoke of his excitement at the year ahead.
“It’s an incredible year really, unprecedented. You’ve got the EURO Play-Off against Slovakia of course. We’ve got six games in the Nations League and also World Cup Qualifiers to come.
“That’s never happened before. Nine games between September and November. It’s very very exciting. We have lots to look forward to.”
Kenny will be joined in the Irish dugout by his former U21 assistant manager Keith Andrews as well as Damien Duff who will balance his role at Celtic with his new appointment alongside the new Irish boss.
“Keith (Andrews) has been coaching the Ireland U16s, U17s and U18s and has coached with the U21s for me this year. We have a great rapport.
“He’s done very well. Damien (Duff) has been with the Ireland U15s and done very well and has been with Shamrock Rovers too. Reports from Celtic’s first team are that he’s been excellent there all year. He has a very very high work ethic and is a big addition to the coaching team.”
Kenny was also quick to praise the outgoing McCarthy who he believes leaves a great legacy behind him.
“Mick has had a tremendous career as captain of Ireland and as manager on two occasions. He leaves a legacy behind him and it’s just unfortunate with the cancellation of matches, it’s been an unfortunate situation. He’s revered in Ireland.”
With the U21s, Kenny had seen success in his year and a half in charge, leading Ireland to the top of their group as they look to qualify for the European Championships for the first time in history.
He leaves the team in the hands of Jim Crawford and the incoming John O’Shea who will take charge of the side.
“Jim Crawford was the Ireland U18 manager and came in last year with me and the U21s and has made a great contribution over the campaign. We’re winning the group at the moment, we’ve three games left to try and qualify for the European Championships. John O’Shea alongside him too. I’m sure they’ll look forward to that challenge as well.”
Kenny finished with a message for the Ireland fans promising that better days are ahead in what’s been a difficult time for so many across the world, not just in the sporting sphere.
“At the moment we need to stay safe and look after each other. There is a lot of tragedy in Europe. In Ireland people have been very very disciplined throughout the country and hopefully we get the benefit of that.
“A lot of people have lost their lives of course and our thoughts are with them. For the Irish fans there are better days ahead and we can look forward, in a sporting context, to what is a magnificent year in football.”
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