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Stephen Kenny hits back at those who believe Ireland have to play direct

Stephen Kenny

This is what we want to hear from the Republic of Ireland manager.

Stephen Kenny has said that he completely rejects the preconceived narrative that playing to Ireland’s strengths involves a direct, long-ball style of football.

Ireland supporters have grown accustomed to seeing their side play a direct style of football under numerous managers including Giovanni Trapattoni, Martin O’Neill and Mick McCarthy.

Kenny’s appointment has come with considerable excitement due to the brand of football his sides play as proven during his time with Dundalk and the Republic of Ireland U21s.

Ireland’s 1-1 draw with Bulgaria on Thursday provided an initial glimpse into how Ireland will play during Kenny’s tenure as the Boys In Green had increased possession.

Stephen Kenny: “I reject that idea”

Kenny was speaking to Sky Sports before their UEFA Nations League clash with Finland where he outlined his frustration at the notion that adopting a direct style of football is playing to Ireland’s strengths.

“I reject the idea…It has been reported at various times that it is in our DNA that we can’t pass the ball accurately or that we can’t play progressively as a team. That somehow we have to play a more direct style of play because it suits us as a nation.

“I reject that completely. I don’t agree with it.

“I think the issue of controlling matches is very important to me and to us. I think we had over 500 passes in Bulgaria in an away gave which we’ve never had. It’s a different way of playing. We don’t pat ourselves on the back for that because there are areas of improvement.

“We need more cutting edge in our play. I think the fact that the players showed confidence. I normally would never measure pass completion rate. But 91% of passes completed shows that the players can pass the ball well and accurately.”

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email [email protected] or on Twitter