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Brian Kerr Doesn't Hold Back In Explaining Irish Teams' Miserable European Campaign

Brian Kerr Doesn't Hold Back In Explaining Irish Teams' Miserable European Campaign
By Gavin Cooney Updated

It has been a grim season for Irish clubs in Europe. Cork City were the last Irish team left standing in Europe, but by the time the second leg of their Europa League tie with Rosenborg kicked off they were reeling; by full-time knocked out. The 3-0 defeat in Norway was Cork's heaviest aggregate defeat in Europe since 1994, having already lost 2-0 at Turner's Cross.

As to how good a barometer the respective travails of Cork, Dundalk, Derry and Rovers are for the health of the League of Ireland is open to debate, and it was a topic that Brian Kerr fiercely interrogated alongside Darragh Maloney and Kevin Doyle on RTE after Cork's exit.

Kerr began by speaking plainly when focusing on Cork, saying that their players aren't good enough:

Morale-wise, it wouldn't have done them a lot of good. They lost 4-0 to Legia over the two games, and 5-0 to Rosenborg over the two games. As Stuart [Byrne] said on commentary, they haven't scored a goal in the last six European games.

What it shows is that the players they are putting out aren't good enough to win games against the best team in Poland and the best team in Norway. The best players in Ireland, on the Cork team, aren't good enough to win in Europe. You can't keep selling your best players every year and replacing them with younger players.

Ryan Delaney went, Kevin O'Connor went, Greg Bolger went and most importantly of all, Sean Maguire went. They are not replacing them with battle-hardened players who know how to win matches in Europe.

Out of 12 games this year, Irish teams have failed to score in eight of them. Only Dundalk scored a goal at home.

You can't progress in Europe if you are constantly selling your best players and replacing them with young players, some of them were playing Munster Senior League last year.

They don't have the physicality required, the tactical nous required, the cuteness required, the speed required, and the ability to take chances to score goals.

As to why the players aren't there, Kerr ascribed Cork and Dundalk's failure to hold on to their best players as being the result of an image problem for the League.

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The development is too slow. We have a league of which there is no proper promotion of, no marketing. John Caulfield has said there isn't marketing for the league: there isn't enough professionalism about the promotion of the league. The image for the league isn't good enough for us to retain players.

What frustrates me is seeing players going off to play in the lower divisions in England rather than play for Dundalk or Cork in the Champions League.

The tradition at the club [Rosenborg] and the success they have had over years means that they have a knowledge base and a culture, and they know what it takes to win matches and European games against most reasonable opposition.

Can we get to that position? Not with our league as it is currently structured. We have done too much fiddling around with the structure of our league, about whether it is a ten-team or twelve-team league or whether we play three rounds of matches or four. We are ignoring the core issues: the promotion of the league, the marketing of the league, the professionalism of the league, the back up structures of the league.

If you take the first round of the FAI Cup last weekend: it was almost a state secret but for the efforts of RTE and the newspaper that sponsors it, the Daily Mail.

The development of the stadium has been a mickey mouse, piece-by-piece development. We talk about building a new stadium here, and maybe an all-weather pitch in there, and maybe we build one new stand at a time. It is all piecemeal.

We stopped doing anything for about 50 years, bar Cork's situation. They've done a good job, Sligo have done a good job. A lot of the dressing rooms and the facilities aren't up to standard.

There is a huge amount to be done for the league to have credibility.

See Also: Declan Rice "Hung Out To Dry" In Liverpool Match

 

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