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Stephen Kenny Outlines Vision For Bright Future Of Irish Football

Stephen Kenny Outlines Vision For Bright Future Of Irish Football
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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Stephen Kenny believes that if there had been better communication between underage managers and the senior management team, both Jack Grealish and Declan Rice would be playing for Ireland.

"I know this is subjective and slightly controversial," the Ireland U21 manager told Eamon Dunphy's podcast, The Stand.

"If there was a better relationship at the time between U15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and senior managers, you would feel that both Jack Grealish and Declan Rice would definitely be playing for Ireland because they would have been fast-tracked earlier and into the first-team earlier.

"Jack Grealish played GAA for Warwickshire in England all the way up. He did feel a sense of Irishness.

"[We should have integrated them] much earlier. You wouldn't have to be a genius to work out that Jack Grealish is an outstanding player.

"It needs a coordinated approach between all of the managers. We must be one unit rather than a series of individuals.

"To be fair to Mick McCarthy, he's in contact with myself, Tom Mohan, Colin O'Brien, Andy Reid, Paul Osam and Jason O'Donoghue."



Kenny also feels we should not be chasing players who do not have that core sense of Irish identity.

"We don't have to convince players to play for Ireland - we're not interested in that," said Kenny.

That's no good to us. We need people [for whom] it means everything to them to play for Ireland.

I understand that there is the concept of dual nationality - that can be quite complex; people can feel English and Irish or Nigerian and Irish or whatever it is. We can't be naive, it's not always black or white.

I don't agree with trying to convince people they are Irish, going on bended knee to convince someone.

Kenny's reign as Ireland U21 manager has thus far been a hugely positive one. He embraced the 'if you're good enough, you're old enough' approach at the Toulon Tournament where Ireland finished fourth.


"There's no point in having a whole team of 20-year-olds in the U21s. I wanted to get our best 17-year-olds in the U21s.

"We had five U19 players in that tournament and that bodes well. That's a philosophy we must embrace at all age groups and get the best young players up the ages quicker; expose them to top international football earlier.

"The emphasis should be on technical ability rather than physical strength. That has to be to the forefront about how we think about the game.


"There is a way of playing which we must embrace and think at all levels of the game. We must trust the talent of good players that we produce through the system and encourage them to be the best that they can be.

"For years, we have put limits on the way they think about the game, the way players view the game and the way they view themselves; and the way a lot of coaches previously had thought about the game.

"There is a sea change and you can see it with the younger international teams. There is an emphasis on establishing possession, good passing, good movement and good technical players showing what they are about."


That change includes a requirement for all underage managers to play 4-3-3 or a variation of it.

"We need players emerging from every county," added Kenny.

"We need a plan to identify all the best players early in every county throughout Ireland. It can't be Dublin-centric.

"Players, even at a young age, need to be training four and five days a week because they are in other parts of the world now.

"We must not underestimate ourselves and we must set our standards high and our expectations high within and go to achieve extraordinary things, that's what we have to do all the time."

Photo by Alexandre Dimou/Sportsfile

See Also: After 17 Years Travelling The World, Terry Phelan Wants To Repay Ireland


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