What’s gone wrong for Kenny’s Kids?

Adam Lynch

It’s that time again when we look ahead to Ireland’s chances of qualifying for a major tournament. After missing out on a chance of qualifying for Euro 2020 only a few months ago, pressure now heaps onto Stephen Kenny and his young squad.  

After a quite convincing performance against Slovakia in a semi final play off back in October, Ireland went out losers on Penalties after the game finished 0-0 after extra time, a game in which Ireland dominated for large parts and had chances to win the game. Conor Hourihane almost won the game late on for the boys in green. A heartbreaking defeat in Stephen Kenny’s first chance of qualifying for a major tournament. Slovakia would later go on to beat Northern Ireland in the final and claim their place at the delayed Euro 2020.

Since taking over from Mick McCarthy back in the summer of 2020, Kenny has found it tough going. With Ireland scoring only one goal in the whole of 2020 (and that was a late equaliser from Shane Duffy against Bulgaria in the Nations League in Sofia), Kenny has found it hard to get this team going and finding goals has been a major problem.

With none of Ireland’s forward players firing, winning has become an impossible task. With Ireland’s last competitive win coming in a Euro qualifier against Gibraltar back in June 2019, back when Mick McCarthy was manager.

Kenny adapted a possession game to this Ireland team, something that we’ve never seen before on this island, the same tactic that brought great success to him at Dundalk and also the Irish U21s/

A surprising appointment to many. It was planned that Kenny would take over after the Euro 2020 campaign, but due to coronavirus pushing the tournament back 12 months, McCarthy’s contract expired leaving it to the Dubliner Kenny to pick up from where the beloved McCarthy left off.

Fans looked on, fascinated with Kenny’s ideas, knowing that he intended to play possession football. With the results not going to plan and a long goal drought, fans are quickly becoming impatient. With the World Cup qualifiers coming around in March it gives Kenny another opportunity to get this team to the World Cup in Qatar. In what will be 20 years since Ireland last featured in the competition. 

A trip to Serbia is where the boys have to go first in what could prove to be a crucial game by the end of the group stage, before 3 days later taking on Luxembourg at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

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