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'You Cheeky Bastard' - Mark Kennedy Details Unknown Fall-Out With Brian Kerr

'You Cheeky Bastard' - Mark Kennedy Details Unknown Fall-Out With Brian Kerr
By Gavin Cooney Updated
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In the long list of fallouts between Irish internationals and their managers, the clash between Brian Kerr and Mark Kennedy has been hitherto undocumented. But thanks to the fearless sleuthing of one Kevin Kilbane, the Irish public now know of a dispute that did not even fliter through to Kerr's players.

Working for Newstalk's Off The Ball, Kilbane sat down for an extensive interview with former Irish international Kennedy, who revealed the details of his terrible relationship with Kerr, which ultimately led to Kennedy never playing for Ireland today.

The interview will air in a number of parts, the first of which is going out on Newstalk at 8.40pm tonight. It promises to be essential listening, based on the teaser clip Off The Ball played in their opening half-hour tonight.

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Kennedy told Kilbane that he doesn't watch Ireland anymore, and then delved into the reasons why his relationship with the international team has soured:

I remember vividly when, and I cannot be any more honest about this. Briak Kerr's first game in charge was against Scotland. I played for Wolves on the Saturday, and I picked up a bit of a groin injury. I personally rang Brian Kerr, and said to him - a physio had spoken to him - and I rang him that night, on the Saturday. I personally said to him, 'Brian, I've got a groin injury', I'm struggling, and I promise you one thing, I'll play for Wolves the following Saturday, because I'm not dying, I've got a tight, whatever it is...a bit of a problem.  I will play for Wolves next Saturday, but I'm not going to be one of those players who says they are injured, and you see playing the next Saturday. If you want me to play against Scotland I'll come up and I'll play, but I could do without that game'.

Brian then left a message on my phone, which was absolutely bizarre, that night, basically moaning 'I don't like hearing things third-hand', stuff like that. I was thinking, 'I rang you, I spoke to you, you're deluded, I spoke to you'.

Then the next trip, we were away to Georgia and Albania, and he put me on standby. I thought, 'you cheeky bastard'. He called me up, and I told him, 'I'm not going'. I'll never forget it: we played Gillingham at home, I banged in two. Dave [Jones, then Wolves manager] took me off, and I told him 'I'm injured'. He went, 'what?' And I said 'I'm not going to Georgia and Albania'. And that's me done.

Kennedy went on to tell Kilbane that he is a "really stubborn" guy, and a "black and white person", confirming that this was the end of his Irish career.

He left me out for a long time after that, and he tried to call me up to some mickey mouse tournament in London. I remember speaking to Robbie [Keane], who was playing with Tottenham in the Premier League. There was this Tri-Nations tournament in Fulham, and I said to Robbie, 'What are you doing for your summer holidays'. Robbie said 'oh, I've spoken to so and so, and we've got this tournament'.

Brian Kerr never phoned me, never told me to do this, and do that, and then he called me up right near the end. And do you know what really annoyed me Kev? I just said, I'm not going. I'm injured, I have no interest. I always remember a headline in the paper, and it went 'Sicknote Injured Again', and I thought....you cheeky bastards. That's nowhere near, I just don't want to play.

I don't want to play for people who I don't respect. And if that means I don't play for my country...then it doesn't bother me.

Remarkably, Kilbane later revealed that he had no idea that Kerr's relationship with Kennedy was so strained. It sounds like the full interview will be a compelling listen.

[Off the Ball]

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