They may have only played one game under Stephen Kenny, but Ireland’s U21s caught the eye of many following their stylish victory over Luxembourg last month.
Kenny’s side won their European Championship opener against Luxembourg by 3-0 and impressed many with their free-flowing and open style of play. Something not usually associated with Irish national teams.
Currently preparing for the Toulon Tournament which begins in June, Kenny spoke about his side’s style of play in an interview on the FAI’s website and was keen to stress that the idea that an Irish side cannot play attractive football is “totally unacceptable” to him.
“We can’t be insisting on parameters to limit ourselves,” said Kenny.
“Always, traditionally we limit ourselves in how we think we can play we don’t think we are good enough as a nation, we don’t think our players are good enough and to me that is unacceptable. Absolutely unacceptable. We must demand more of ourselves.”
Against Luxembourg, the stamp that Kenny had put on the team was clearly evident, as they brushed their opponents aside with attacking and eye-catching football.
INTERVIEW | #IRLU21🇮🇪 manager Stephen Kenny
Watch the full in-depth interview, as Kenny discusses Toulon, style and future development on the FAI TV YouTube channel!
💬 "We don't think we're good enough as a nation, to me, that's unacceptable…" 💪
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) April 9, 2019
The former Dundalk boss outlined that players who can dribble the ball and dynamic fullbacks are vital to the way he wants his side to play the game.
“We want defenders who are comfortable in possession who can play out and use the maximum width of the pitch. I always try to have three dribblers in my team if I can.
“Three players who have the cutting edge to go by people with their skill level and with their pace. We seen that with Zach Elbouzedi, Neil Farrugia and Connor Ronan against Luxembourg, three dynamic dribblers who can create and provide. We want our full backs to be raiders but they can also be dribblers.
“You see Lee O’Connor he’s a raider from right-back and Trevor Clarke and Darragh Leahy players like that who can get forward and join in the attack.”
Ireland U21s return to action on June 3rd as they take on China in their Toulon Tournament group opener.