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17th Jun 2023

FAI chiefs to meet for discussions over Stephen Kenny’s future

Rory Fleming

FAI Stephen Kenny

Kenny’s Ireland career hangs in the balance following what was a disastrous defeat in Greece.

FAI chiefs are set to meet this weekend to deliberate over the future of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny.

Having slipped to yet another uninspiring away defeat at the hands of Greece, leaving Kenny with a record of just four wins in 23 competitive games, Ireland’s hopes of automatic qualification to Euro 2024 appear all but over just two games into the campaign.

With media and fan fallout markedly critical of Kenny and his management staff, namely former Ireland defender Damien Delaney calling Kenny “out of his depth” on Virgin Media, the FAI board have bowed to public pressure and will now hold an emergency meeting.

FAI Stephen KennyA forlorn Kenny ponders where it went wrong for his Ireland team in Athens. (Credit: Sportsfile)

Kenny has now been in situ for three years, with numerous low points across the span of his reign from defeat at home to Luxembourg to drawing with Azerbaijan.

However, the sentiment surrounding Ireland’s defeat in Greece feels worse than those results, with the lifeless nature of the Irish performance perhaps the most worrying aspect of all.

After the game, in his customary post-match interview with RTE’s Tony Donoghue, the 51-year-old cut a defeated character as he struggled to find a reason for a result which left Ireland firmly rooted to the bottom of their qualification group.

Although his playing squad were brandished by Ireland and Arsenal legend Liam Brady as “the worst in his lifetime”, Kenny himself has set expectations at lofty heights.

Prior to last year’s UEFA Nations League, he decreed that Ireland’s aim was to win the group, an ambition which never looked more than a pipe dream.

Similarly, before the Boys in Green set out on their quest to reach the European Championships, Kenny openly discussed the possibility of gaining automatic qualification.

FAI Stephen KennyKenny laid the blame for the performance firmly at the feet of the players. (Credit: Sportsfile)

However, now the former Dundalk boss finds himself heading into a do-or-die clash with Gibraltar on Monday night, knowing that anything short of an emphatic win will likely spell the end of his reign.

Despite Kenny’s players leaping to his defence in the aftermath of the drab defeat in Athens, he himself opted to lay the blame at the feet of his players, in what appeared to be a desperate last attempt to obfuscate the blame.

“(Greece) were better than us… We let ourselves down with the defending”, said Kenny, before admitting to being “disappointed with the performance”.

For Kenny though, attention must immediately shift, as failure to win on Monday night could leave this Ireland side cemented firmly in footballing infamy as the worst in memory.

And even in avoiding a calamitous result, Monday night may yet prove to be Kenny’s last in his sojourn as Ireland manager.

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