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'Everything Was Finalised On Saturday. A Week Ago, I Couldn’t Have Envisioned This'

'Everything Was Finalised On Saturday. A Week Ago, I Couldn’t Have Envisioned This'
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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It has been a whirlwind five days for Irish football. Last Wednesday, Martin O'Neill departed as Ireland manager, with his backroom team, including Roy Keane, also stepping down.

On Sunday, his successor, Mick McCarthy, was unveiled. There was a twist: McCarthy's successor was also announced. Stephen Kenny will take over from McCarthy after Euro 2020.

On Monday afternoon, Kenny - who was Dundalk manager for the past six years - was unveiled as both the new Ireland U21 boss and Ireland senior manager in waiting.

"Everything was just finalised on Saturday," Kenny said at a press conference.

"A week ago, I couldn’t have envisioned this, of course, but it’s an arrangement that I’m perfectly happy with, I’m delighted with. It’s a great opportunity. And one that I’ll work extremely hard to do it justice."

Kenny met with Mick McCarthy and his assistant, Robbie Keane, on Sunday evening. He believes that it will be the first of many conversations which he will have with the now two-time Ireland boss.

That was fine, it was great. I’d not met Mick in 15 years, it went very well. He’s got great experience, Mick, he obviously captained Ireland for such a long period and had a very successful period as manager of Ireland. So, I think I can only learn from him.


The 47-year-old will succeed McCarthy in August 2020. It's a date which Kenny says is in writing.

It was reported over the weekend that John Giles had played a part in convincing Kenny to take a job. "That's completely news to me," said Kenny of those reports.

The press conference featured a fitting moment as Google Maps on one journalist's phone announced, "You have arrived", while Kenny was discussing some of his contract details.


In addition to being under-21 manager, Kenny will also oversee all Irish underage men's teams.

My brief is the under-21 international team, the under-19s, under-18s, 17s, 16s, 15s. I think there’s great work going on at all levels.

I think all the international managers from Tom Owen to Jim Crawford to Colin O’Brien, Paul Osam, Jason Donoghue, right throughout. There’s been a lot of great work being done. Part of Ruud Dokter and the board’s vision here for the future of Irish football, I’m now a part of that.

My role is now to assist and support all of the other managers and to nurture and develop and help inspire the new generation of Irish players for the future of Irish football. And I think that’s a very exciting period for everyone.

Overall, Kenny is excited about the under-21 job and the opportunity it will give him to expand his football horizons. He also feels that the Champions League and Europa League experience which he gained with Dundalk is "the best preparation you can get for international football."

"Over the next period, the next two years, I've got a great opportunity to learn. First of all, from the current international manager, Mick McCarthy, I've got a lot to learn from him.


"It gives me an opportunity to travel, see how the other international teams prepare; the tactical nuances of the different systems, really examine them at close quarters; the blocks of games close together in four or five days and explore the best practice for preparation."

Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

See Also: 10 Things We Learned From Mick McCarthy's Announcement Press Conference


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