Stephen Kenny on what really happened at Dunfermline
By Aaron McNally
Stephen Kenny is one of the favourites to take over from Martin O’Neill as Irish boss.
Many people think he would do a great job as the Irish gaffer off the back of his unrivalled success with Dundalk in the League of Ireland - and, indeed, in Europe too - but others still have doubts about the Tallaght man because of what happened in Dunfermline.
Although he got them to the Scottish Cup final, Kenny’s stint at the Fife club was seen as a failure because of their relegation from the top tier and a poor start to life in the First Division before he left in December 2007.
Despite Dunfermline being Dunfermline, a club who have always struggled at the top of Scotland and hardly a place where any manager has really carved out a path of success for themselves, it's still viewed by a section of Irish football fans as Kenny's big break. Apparently you can only really determine the credentials of a man when he goes across the water, even when that is exactly the same attitude the Dundalk manager is trying to break. Even when the same man went to Scotland with Derry City and absolutely smashed SPL team Gretna in the UEFA Cup.
The candidate for the Ireland job, who excited the nation with his interview this morning, was on Eamon Dunphy's podcast The Stand earlier in the year and Dunphy shared that episode again on Friday.
In that interview, Kenny opened up about his stint with Dunfermline and described his time at the club including the highs of the cup run and the lows of relegation and eventually parting ways.
"They were bottom of the league when I took over and there was big injury list and a really ageing squad," he explained.
"It is a good club with good tradition but they were having a low period there. They were right at bottom [of the table].
"We shipped a few defeats to be fair and we were struggling a bit but then we managed to get a cup run. We beat Rangers, Hearts who were the cup holders and we beat Hibs in the semi-final.
We lost 1-0 to Celtic in cup final but it was a good achievement to get to the final and to beat all those teams."
The Dundalk boss also explained how they were quite unlucky to go down in the end and how getting relegated had a huge impact on the club.
"We got relegated before the cup final but we won five on the bounce at the end of the season and nearly stayed up. St Mirren were 2-0 down and came back to win 3-2 to put us down.
"Getting relegated at that time just financially crippled the club.
"The jump from the Scottish premiership to the then First Division was just a huge drop in revenue, TV exposure and had huge implications for the club and a lot of people were let go and redundancies and all that at the club.
"I then lost my job and it was tough because our whole family had to move back to Ireland and our kids had to move school again."
Kenny then attempted to sum up his time at Dunfermline and explained where it all went wrong.
"I think I made a lot of mistakes there but I think I showed that I could put a team together and get them playing in a way that Dunfermline had never played like before.
"I brought in all these players on loan and we started winning games but at the end of the season they all went back to their clubs and all the players I had left out all had long contracts."
Dunfermline might not have been Kenny’s finest job but he has certainly bounced back turning Dundalk into the best team in Irish football at the moment and he now finds himself among the favourites for the Republic of Ireland manager position so you can definitely say that Kenny has improved as a manager.