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10th Sep 2023

Stephen Kenny searches for answers in ‘uncomfortable’ post-match interview

Rory Fleming

Stephen Kenny

Stephen Kenny’s Ireland future now hangs in the balance…

Ireland fell to a fourth defeat in five Euro 2024 qualification fixtures at the hands of the Netherlands on Sunday night, leaving Stephen Kenny’s future hanging in the balance.

Initially, it appeared a historic night was on the cards at the Aviva Stadium, with Ronald Koeman’s controversial pre-match comments clearly sparking life into an energetic Ireland side.

However, almost as quickly as Ireland went ahead thanks to an early Adam Idah penalty, they were pegged back by the concession of one themselves, before Wout Weghorst delivered the fatal blow to Ireland’s Euro 2024 dreams (from the pool route at least).

Following the defeat, a forlorn-looking Stephen Kenny was questioned by RTE’s Tony O’Donoghue on both the Irish performance on the night, and his own future as Ireland boss going forward.

Stephen Kenny searches for answers after Dutch defeat.

Speaking to Ireland’s fast start in the opening quarter of the game, the under-fire manager remarked;

“I thought the level of our pressing was exceptional in that first half. We were prepared to go man-for-man against a team that was only beaten on penalties by Argentina in the World Cup quarter-finals, and we got our reward.

“We won brilliant tackles and created chances to go again. But we just didn’t capitalise on that.”

RTE interviewer Tony O’Donoghue then pressed Kenny further by saying: “It looked like Holland were there for the taking,”

To which the Ireland manager could find no response, until eventually mustering “I was just disappointed with the goal we conceded then, very disappointed.”

Going on to describe the positional change of Cody Gakpo to play higher up the left-hand side of the pitch as the turning point in the defeat, the former Dundalk boss offered up his reasoning as to why Ireland faded away late on.

“I’m not trying to make excuses, but the 90 minutes in Paris where we put phenomenal effort in three days ago probably had an impact.”

Again pressing Kenny for comment on his own future, O’Donoghue prompted Kenny by utilising the old football cliche that the game is a “results business”, to which Kenny responded;

“Yeah, you do need to get results. Obviously we had a World Cup campaign where we finished third in the group behind Serbia and Portugal, where we blooded over 20 players.

Kenny barely got out another word before O’Donoghue jumped back by asking, “But you do need to find a way to win?”

A defeated-looking Kenny took this as the opportunity to address his own future, saying;

“Listen, we do. We are absolutely gutted that we haven’t won there and to beat one of the best teams in Europe you have to see out difficult periods and we didn’t do that for the second goal. They didn’t create all that many chances.

“I absolutely do (feel I’ll stay on as manager). We have got two matches in October and we’ve got Greece and Gibraltar in October before heading to Amsterdam. After that, it’s certainly not my decision. We will have to see if we have that play-off in March which is still a chance.”

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