Football

In Only A Short Time, Kenny Has Made A Huge Impact On Callum O'Dowda

In Only A Short Time, Kenny Has Made A Huge Impact On Callum O'Dowda

Callum O'Dowda's career with Ireland probably hasn't quite taken off in the way many would have expected it to. The winger was hugely impressive after his introduction to the squad in 2016, putting in some quality performances in the opportunities he was given.

He has played in some big games for Ireland in recent years, including starting the first leg of the World Cup play-off against Denmark. However, he has never really been what you would consider a first choice player.

This could be down to a multitude of factors. He has struggled with injury at time, while a contract stand-off with Bristol City also saw his minutes cut at the club as a result. There is also the fact that he didn't really seem to be the type of winger that suited the style played under Martin O'Neill and Mick McCarthy.

That has changed under the new manager.

O'Dowda was in the team for each of Stephen Kenny's first two games in charge. Speaking to members of the media in a virtual press conference ahead of Thursday's crunch fixture in Slovakia, he said that getting the nod was a huge boost to his confidence.

He has shown a lot of faith in me and I wanted to pay that back instantly as much as I could on the pitch in the first game.

It's a massive thing for me and I just want to do the best I can for him, myself, and the country...

Players thrive when you're wanted by a manager. The current manager has been brilliant to me. We had a few conversations, even when I was at Bristol City at the back end of last season. It was when our manager got relieved of his duties and I wasn't in the next game, he was calling me.

The man management side has been really good. I can't say a bad thing about him so far.

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Indeed, O'Dowda seems to be a massive fan of the way Stephen Kenny conducts his business.

The one criticism that was often levelled at O'Neill and McCarthy was their apparent laissez-faire approach to games, where it was thought that Ireland teams were sometimes not well drilled enough when it came to playing against certain opposition.

From all we have heard about Kenny in his short time in charge of the country, it is unlikely the same will be said of him.

In fact, O'Dowda said that the former Dundalk boss is the best he has worked with when it comes to attention to detail and man management.

Honestly, I think the gaffer has been brilliant. The attention to detail is something I've really noticed, probably the best that I've worked under so far in terms of that aspect.

I think it is a bit tough when you go into a new camp and you don't have much time with the group and you're getting across your philosophy. That bit is quite hard.

But listen, I've had phone calls with the manager and zoom meetings with him previously as well. The more training sessions we have with him and the more meetings, it's only going to get better...

In terms of the setup, I haven't actually been in a setup like this. Whether it be from analysis meetings, physical workout stuff, gym loading, meetings, it's all there...

The lads and I are really impressed with the manager so far, he's probably the best I've worked with in terms of detail and the man management side.

As for the game on Thursday night, the 25-year old believes it is the biggest of his career.

After being around the Ireland camp in the buildup to Euro 2016, the major tournament experience is something he is desperate to be a part of.

For me, I'd say it is probably the biggest. I had a chance of going to the Euros four years ago with the squad, and the feeling around the camp then was incredible. I came into the setup and everyone was so happy, everyone's confidence coming out of the campaign.

I wish I was on the plane. I don't think I deserved to go anyway because the players that got the squad there deserved to go. I just wish that we can get there again, and for me personally I would love to go.

See Also: Irish Defender Ryan Nolan Arrives In Spain Ahead Of Transfer

Gary Connaughton

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