Stephen Kenny Says He Won’t Try To “Persuade” Players To Represent Ireland

Stephen Kenny has said he will not chase so-called “Granny rule” players to represent the Republic of Ireland.

The term refers to recruiting non-Irish born footballers to play for the Boys in Green despite having a tenuous link to the country.

Ireland have benefited from this route in the past and seeking to recruit British-born players with Irish heritage has often been the first port of call for new Ireland managers.

However, while Ireland always have and always will rely on the diaspora for players, Kenny only wants those who have a sense of Irishness, who have strong links to the country, to play for his team.

So, if a British-born player is sitting on the fence, unsure about whether to represent Ireland or not, the new Ireland manager won’t be interested.

“I’m not in the business of persuading people to be Irish,” Kenny told reporters.

He went on to stress that, of course, he would not exclude non-Irish born players. The new national team manager merely wants players fully committed to the cause.

“Emigration is a strong part of Irish culture, always has been,” Kenny said.

“We find players who grew up in Irish communities in Britain, who came back here for school holidays, etc, who realise that Irishness is a part of their lives. We’ll always welcome them to our teams.”

Kenny’s predecessor Mick McCarthy was knocked back on a couple of occasions when attempting to recruit British players of Irish descent to represent Ireland.

Leeds United forward Patrick Bamford was heavily linked with a switch to Ireland but never fully committed and said he was choosing to focus on his club career.

McCarthy also attempted to recruit Southampton’s Nathan Redmond, who qualifies for Ireland through his Irish-born mother but has already been capped at senior level for England in a friendly.

However, it appears Kenny’s ascend to the top job will signal the end of such an approach. The former Dundalk coach has clearly stated that he is not interested in players who are not fully committed to representing Ireland.

Kenny is also unwilling to play the reactive football practised by his predecessors. He certainly won’t be selecting players based on the club they play for, rather than the form they are in, as has often been the case in the past.

“I think it’s important that you don’t let other people dictate your team as well and sometimes they do,” he told reporters.

“Just because somebody gets an opportunity and another players doesn’t, does that mean he is rated above the player who didn’t get an opportunity? This is the dilemma.

“I don’t want to manage the Irish team based on a league table, a mathematical table based on who’s got a number of appearances for a certain club and therefore they should be in the team rather than someone who has fewer appearances for a different club. I don’t want to manage like that.

“I want to have a clear vision of what I want, and what players fit into what I want. At the same time, you do need to play games, because if you don’t you lose your match fitness and you fall behind.

“It is a fact that the under-23 league, for example, there is a big jump between that and the first team. The jump is far too big. I’m not saying that everybody has to play every week all the time. In an ideal world, that would happen, but I don’t want to manage based on the law of marginal returns, if you like.”

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