Stephen Kenny was unveiled as the new Ireland U21 manager at the Aviva Stadium on Monday, where questions centred around his future as the senior boss in two year’s time.
Kenny left Dundalk over the weekend following six highly successful seasons at Oriel Park, winning four of the last five League of Ireland titles, and was earmarked by many as the direct replacement to Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane, who were dismissed last week.
However, that job was given to Mick McCarthy, with Kenny having to wait until after the Euro 2020 campaign to progress to senior manager.
Two years is an eternity in football, and Kenny was pressed by the media on the assurances he was given that he would be the senior manager when McCarthy vacates his role, regardless of how results pan out.
“It’s already been decided. The decision has already been made.
“In August 2020 I’m taking over and that’s the (decision).”
When pressed on whether it was in writing, Kenny reluctantly responded.
“It’s in writing.”
Kenny spoke about the haste with which his new appointment arose.
“The first thing is that I’m being announced as the Under 21 manager. It’s a huge privilege to be here for the next four years and beyond, I hope. I can’t wait to get started.
“Everything was just finalised on Saturday. A week ago I couldn’t have envisaged this. It’s an arrangement I’m perfectly happy with, delighted with. One that I’ll work extremely hard to do it justice.”
The former Dunfermline manager met with new Ireland senior manager Mick McCarthy, and his assistant Robbie Keane, on Sunday night.
“I’d not met Mick (McCarthy) in fifteen years. It all went really well. He’s got great experience. I think I can only learn from him in the interim period.
“The senior team is not my brief, my brief is the U21 international team. I think all the international managers, right throughout, there’s been a lot of good work done. I’m now a part of that. My role is to assist and support all the other managers, to nurture and develop and help to inspire the next generation of Irish footballers.
“I’m very happy with what I’ve been offered.”
Kenny will take charge of the U21s following Noel King’s reshuffling into the ‘Player Identification Manager’ position. King endured a difficult time as U21 manager and Kenny will undoubtedly have a challenging task ahead of him. However, the u19s side is bursting with talent, such as Adam Idah and Troy Parrott, many of whom Kenny will likely promote to the U21s during his two-year tenure.
Kenny was quizzed on his relationship with his new employers, the FAI.
“My relationship with the FAI has always been good I feel. It’s never been fraught. It’s always been good. I’ve obviously never worked here. I was part of an U16 team that went to Israel many years ago but my involvement with the international setup would be just to that extent.
“Of course. It was a real wrench to leave Dundalk Football Club. We had amazing success there. It was a very unique period in Irish football history.
Lastly, the former Dundalk manager reflected on his managerial career, starting off in Flancare Park with Longford to the present day.
“My career hasn’t always been an upward curve. I couldn’t have envisaged (being offered the senior job). It’s a huge honour. I’m delighted to be here.
“The greater good of Irish football is what’s of importance.”