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‘I’ll defend him to the hilt’ – Brian Gartland on why Stephen Kenny needs time as Ireland manager

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“I’ll defend him to the hilt.”

Brian Gartland has explained why Stephen Kenny should be given time as Ireland manager, saying he will “defend him to the hilt.”

LOI Arena is the new podcast about the League of Ireland and Irish football from Con Murphy, Conan Byrne and Pundit Arena.

Stephen Kenny.

During this week’s episode, Gartland was asked about his former Dundalk manager’s future and the defender insisted Kenny needs time to develop the younger players in the squad.

“I think you can see what he’s trying to do. You can see that he’s trying to change the (style) of football. And nothing like that’s ever done quickly,” Gartland told Con and Conan.

“The results, and it’s not an excuse, he would’ve hoped to have done better, but I’ll defend him to the hilt, because you look at the Slovakia game, we had a tap-in from a couple of yards out from Hourihane – who scores unbelievable free-kicks and goals from 30 yards!

“Things like that just haven’t gone his way. In terms of Covid, even people (in the squad) who didn’t have Covid, we lost two players because of a false test – two key attacking players. Ultimately, results have to change, and he’ll know that, he’ll understand that. But I’ve full faith in what they do.”

gartland dundalk

Style of play.

The 34-year-old believes that if Ireland want to change their style of play, then results will take time given the small window for training ground work during an international break.

“If we want to change football in this country, it needs to be a grand scale thing. We can’t rely on abroad to be bringing through players. The last 20 years, this is the culmination of where we are,” Gartland continued.

“I’ve faith in Stephen and the way he plays. At least we’re going to press teams, we’re going to try to play football. Collins nearly scores against Luxembourg to put us one up and it was a great phase of play through the whole pitch.

“Listen, it’s a poor result, but we’re seeing bits of that and the one thing I would say, and I don’t know if people understand international football, they (the squad) arrive on a Sunday and they fly out on a Monday or Tuesday and you have two or three games that week – you don’t have time on the training pitch.

“Players are matchday plus one and matchday plus two – you can’t have them on the pitch doing stuff, so you’ve no time to work on stuff. So, it takes a while. I’m hoping for their sake, this training camp in the summer, they can get as many players in and get good time on the training pitch.”

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Robbie Benson.

Gartland’s former Dundalk teammate Robbie Benson was also on this week’s episode and he believes not having any fans at the Aviva Stadium has had a negative impact on the team’s performances.

“He’s given as much as any one person could give to the job. He’s probably up this morning working and there’s no game for a number of months. He’s definitely put all of his time and effort into it,” Benson added.

“I think another aspect of it for him is to get the experience of a full Aviva soon, that’s something that he would’ve envisioned when he took the job and I really hope he does get to experience that before too long. To have the crowd behind him and behind the team, will be big.

“And I do have faith that results will come in time and as Brian said, the training camp will really go a long way to gelling the players and, obviously they’re all good players, but to get them all on the same wavelength when they come in and play under the system that Stephen wants them to play.”

stephen kenny

LOI Arena.

LOI Arena is the new home for great League of Ireland discussion. Each week Con and Conan will take to the mic to analyse the highs and lows from the Greatest League in the World. The lads are joined by great guests each week who share a passion for all things LOI and Irish Football.

Episode 3 of LOI Arena is free to listen to here.

Former Dundalk teammates Robbie Benson and Brian Gatland joined the lads to chat about their clubs contrasting starts to the season, Brian’s cruciate injury and much more.

The podcast will form part of a new membership offering from Pundit Arena that focuses on Irish soccer fans for just €3.99 per month, less than a euro per week.

Fans can sign up or register to listen for free at

You can also follow the show on Twitter and contact us via email at [email protected].

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