STEPHEN KENNY HAS called for some perspective from the critics of his Ireland team, after Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Netherlands consigned them to their worst qualifying performance in 50 years.
Ireland won home and away to Gibraltar but lost all six of their other games, against France, Netherlands, and Greece, the latter the most damaging as they were a lower seed than Ireland.
“We played Holland the other night, one of the best teams in Europe”, said Kenny at a press conference ahead of tomorrow’s friendly against New Zealand. “People will have their own opinions on it but I thought it was a good game of football. No question, Holland were the better team. We fought to the end of that game, we didn’t create enough, we know that, and we defended for our lives when we needed to.
“It wasn’t like we lost 4-1 to Wales or got hammered in Cyprus or Macedonia the other night, it was a tight game in Holland that we lost 1-0 and deserved to lose. It was one of those games, I think a bit of perspective on that, you know?”
Asked a follow-up question on that issue of perspective, Kenny demurred, potentially already regretting mentioning the nadirs of previous managers.
Tomorrow’s friendly match is expected to be Kenny’s 40th and final game in charge, but he has refused to indulge anything which would lead him to publicly acknowledge that tomorrow will be his farewell.
“I sought clarification before this window in regard to my own position, and if that wasn’t the case, I would have made that clear earlier in the week”, said Kenny. “But from my point of view, the decision is being made next week. If it is my last game, so be it, if there is a new manager to follow me in that regard, I’ll wish him well, if that is the case and they make that decision.
“Regardless of what decision is made and if there is a new manager to come in after me, I’ll wish them well, and I’ll wish the team well moving forward, and I’ll always support Ireland, so from that point of view, that’s the way I view it.”
Tomorrow will definitely be James McClean’s final appearance for Ireland, as he will retire after what will be his 103rd international cap.
“I’ve never hid the fact that it means everything”, reflected McClean. “The Ireland jersey along with the Derry City jersey is a jersey that means more to me than anything else ever will. Tomorrow night for the last time, I’ll pull it on. When I say it out loud, it is a bit sad that that is going to be the case, but tomorrow night when I pull it on I’ll do what I have done 102 times before and I’ll try to do it with as much pride and as much justice as possible because there is no more special feeling that pulling on the green jersey and representing your country.”
Nathan Collins is out of tomorrow’s game with an ankle ligament injury sustained in the final minute of Saturday’s game, though early indications are it is not serious.
Everyone else is fit, with Kenny optimistic that Evan Ferguson will be involved having been taken off in Amsterdam with a tight hamstring.2023-11-20T12:04:20Z dg43tfdfdgfd