Close sidebar

Eamon Dunphy on why Ireland must stick with ‘unlucky’ Stephen Kenny

eamon dunphy

“Kenny has been incredibly unlucky – more unlucky than any Ireland manager I can remember.”

Eamon Dunphy has said that the Republic of Ireland must stick with Stephen Kenny following the national team’s embarrassing defeat to Luxembourg.

Ireland’s slim chances of reaching the 2022 World Cup were dealt a serious blow on Saturday night when Gerson Rodrigues struck the winner for the visitors in Dublin.

Luxembourg are the lowest-ranked side in Group A, but they deserved to win and it was Ireland who were left looking like minnows.

Republic of Ireland

Pressure mounts on Stephen Kenny.

Following the defeat for the Boys in Green, Kenny has come under immense pressure. The former Dundalk coach has failed to oversee a win in his 10 matches in charge, and some have called for him to exit the job – including Paul McGrath.

Dunphy, however, has urged the FAI to be patient and give Kenny time to turn things around. The veteran broadcaster has frequently criticised Ireland managers in the past but has said that the current boss has been ‘unlucky.’

“Stephen Kenny got the Ireland job on merit,” Dunphy writes in his column in The Irish Daily Star.

“He had an impressive track record, he knows Irish football inside out and knows the game.

“There were solid reasons for appointing him as Ireland boss and, despite the catastrophic defeat to Luxembourg, those reasons still exist.”

Eamon Dunphy calls for Stephen Kenny to be given time to put things right.

Dunphy also said that Ireland must implement a more progressive style of play, which Kenny has tried to, or risk getting completely left behind.

The former RTÉ pundit argues that those in favour of Ireland ditching Kenny’s possession-based game in favour of a direct approach are mistaken.

“Do these people watch football these days? Very few teams play that way now.

“What would be the point in going direct and hoofing it up top?

“Aaron Connolly isn’t suddenly going to grow six inches and turn into Niall Quinn. The era of agricultural football is over. Thankfully.”

Dunphy was critical of some of Kenny’s selection choices against Luxembourg. He said that the Ireland manager has been too quick to omit some of the senior players in the squad; such as Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Shane Long and James McClean.

Meanwhile, according to Dunphy, Ireland centre-forward James Collins is a “journeyman who shouldn’t be near international football.”

“Kenny has made a difficult job harder for himself than he had to. But I don’t think his job should be under threat… Chickens are coming home to roost.

“It’s clear for a long time that results like this were coming. That’s because the production line in Irish soccer is broken.”

Eamon Dunphy on the condition of Irish football.

Dunphy cites several reasons for Irish football’s issues. The former Millwall midfielder said that there are “too many chieftains or wannabe chieftains guarding their own patches” within the sport in Ireland.

He also says there has been too much infighting and self-interest within the game. While people with the capacity to improve Irish football – such as Brian Kerr or Lee Carsley – are not working for the FAI.

Of course, Dunphy cites John Delaney’s “disastrous tenure” running the FAI as another reason for the sport’s current state in Ireland. But he says that the former FAI CEO is not solely responsible for the current state of Irish football.

“There are plenty of others who’ve been in key positions – but consistently made bad decisions. And some of them are still in those positions.

“So, I have a lot of sympathy for Kenny because he has inherited a mess.”

stephen kenny

Dunphy: Sacking Kenny won’t solve Ireland’s issues.

Finally, Dunphy states that Kenny must be given time to fully implement his ideas and develop the next generation of Irish players – the way Michael O’Neill did for Northern Ireland between 2011 and 2020.

“Irish football is in a bad place. Sacking Kenny would be no solution to the game’s many problems here,” Dunphy writes.

“Ireland need someone fully committed to the job… They don’t need a jobbing manager who just sees Ireland as a handy paycheque before moving on.

“We need people in charge with a genuine interest and knowledge of the game in this country. Kenny is one of those people.

“Over the course of his career, he’s proven himself to be a bright and innovative coach. Now he has to show his steel.”


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 1 of LOI Arena is free to listen to here.

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].

Read More About: , , ,